Anyone up for flying lessons? Talk to Adam McCarey and ask how cool it is to be up, up in the sky and fly, flying away! Yep, Adam has a pilot’s license.
And have you heard that my wife believes that when she gets to heaven, she is going to get wings and be able to fly all over the new heaven and new earth?
And while that sounds pretty cool, I think, I am not sure where exactly that comes from a biblical reference.
When the bible talks about the End Times, whether it is Jesus speaking, or Paul, it speaks of a time when all we know as part of our existence, will be wrapped up, finished, and a new beginning will, well, begin.
Sometimes the thoughts and images shared in scripture are way beyond our imaginations. Daniel’s wheel within a wheel. Revelations picture of the great throne room with the four beasts.
We struggle to think about things that at a minimum seem abstract.
But this image from Paul’s writings almost makes sense.
That is, we can imagine this. Because while none of us have ever strapped on a pair of wings and flown away, most of us at one time or another have dreamed about it.
Leaving behind the problems, the mess, the craziness and escaping; or just leaping into the air in awe to see what the eagle sees, to discover God’s creation from a perspective we have never really had.
So, while the idea of an “end of time” rapture boggles the mind, finally getting a change to fly away, sounds amazing.
And, on top of that, it is a gift, a gift especially to those who have lost loved ones, folks who loved and served Jesus, but who for one reason or another have already died.
In 1 Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul really is at pains to tell the folks living in Thessalonica, a city in Macedonia, a port on the Aegean Sea, that while some of their Christian friends had died, there were flying lessons just ahead for them - as well as for us!
And while that particular interpretation, that is flying, might be a stretch, it really does encapsulate the hope and joy that is part of the life of a follower of Jesus.
You see, it is the guarantee that no matter what happens in this life, even if it is sad or hard or scary, our future is secure in Christ.
Think about that.
No matter what happens in this life, even if it is sad or hard or scary, our future is guaranteed in Jesus.
Now in these verses, Paul is talking about what is often called the rapture. Actually, that isn’t a term that is in the bible itself.
It is instead a word used to describe what Paul is saying here, that at the end of time we will fly up to meet Jesus.
And that at the end of time, those who lived this life in faith but have died, will all go to meet the Lord first, and then so will everyone else who is still alive.
Paul says that will be in the clouds.
He doesn’t really elaborate, because a complete explanation is not his purpose. He is not trying to satisfy our curiosity about what “up” and “clouds” has to do with it all.
Rather the point of Paul’s explanation was to comfort those who had lost loved ones.
No, they weren’t going to be left behind, they had not missed the resurrection, and they certainly had not missed the eternal reign of God’s kingdom.
You might want to note that Paul places himself in the group that was going to be alive when Jesus returned.
He says “Next, all of us who are still alive will be taken up into the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the sky.”
Yep, early in the church’s life Christians believed Jesus’ return was immanent, a cool word that simply means “like gonna happen momentarily”!
Of course, we realize after 2000 years that perhaps God’s way of counting time is not like ours.
There is even a scripture that was written by the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:8 that says, “Dear friends, don't forget that for the Lord one day is the same as 1,000 years, and 1,000 years is the same as one day.
The point is that we can continue to serve the Lord with our whole lives, knowing that God has got us.
And that a day will come when we will meet Jesus’ face to face and hear those long-awaited words, “well done good and faithful servant”.
And friends, that will be rapture indeed!
In Jesus name…