Where is Paradise?

A man is fast asleep when he is gently awoken by the soft heavenly glow of the Angel Gabriel. After he is convinced that he is in fact truly awake and not dreaming, Gabriel speaks to the man: “I have come to you from the Lord of Hosts, what would you ask of Him? Inquire anything and you shall know!” The man gave this a moments though and then said, “All my life I’ve wanted to know the location of Paradise that I may go there someday.” The Angel takes the man by the hand and they fly out the window, zig zagging around stars until finally landing outside in a modest looking garden. “Is this paradise?”, the man asks. Gabriel takes the man by the hand and leads him to a small house and takes him inside. There inside are a few old men drinking coffee and studying the scriptures. “This”, says Gabriel, “is Paradise!” The man looks understandably confused. Gabriel smiles. “I know why you are puzzled… see, you are under the impression the saints are in Paradise while all this time Paradise has been in the Saints.”

This old Jewish legend teaches something very profound. While we do believe in the hope of Resurrection as Christians, we must not lose sight of the fact that eternal life begins in the here and now. Whenever we gather with one another to search scripture and pray, we are creating a little piece of paradise in our hearts where God can begin to dwell. I far better teacher than I once said “wherever two or more are gathered in my name, I am with them.” God calls us into loving community where the most ordinary of tasks, through his grace, is transformed into heavenly light.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…

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