A few weeks ago, I attended our Diocesan Ministry Fair at the Lutheran Seminary in Hyde Park. When it was over, as I walked to my car, I was pleasantly surprised to find some amazingly colorful chalk-art on the sidewalk. I wondered: Where did it come from? Who had made it? What did it mean?
I later learned that this art had been put there by people participating in a public art project called “50 days of heaven.” This Easter-season project was started by local musician and artist Karen Mooney of Church of Our Savior, Chicago. Karen has invited people from different houses of worship around the city to answer with word images and pictures this question: ”What does heaven look like?”
We can imagine that the “farewell discourse” from John’s gospel that we have heard these past two weeks might have provoked this very question among the disciples of Jesus. His presence among them, both before the cross and after the resurrection, probably seemed as temporary to them as chalk on a sidewalk. The reality of Pentecost, of course, brings a more enlightened perspective.
Chris S. and Katie S. from Karen’s own parish drew a mirror on the sidewalk at the corner of Cleveland and Beldon. The web site explains: “This mirror is meant to reflect the divine in all of us, and the presence of the living God here with us. Because we are invited into communion with God, we are invited into the eternal, heaven.” Earlier that week, Margie P. wrote on the sidewalk right outside on Fullerton: “Heaven is this day right now, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
On this earthly Christian journey, Resurrection is the great signpost that points directly to heaven. It points not to some far away place up above, but to a moment that is taking place right now in our very own sacred dimension of time, space, and matter, in this realm of this-worldly experience. It is difficult to wrap our minds around this idea when we see so much injustice, inexplicable evil, and undeserved suffering in the world. Yet, resurrection faith means trusting that when we — as individuals and as church — continue to do God’s work and God’s will, we are the Risen body of Christ. Where Christ is, God is. Where God is, heaven is.
This point, too, was made eloquently on the sidewalk at more than one location in the “50 days of heaven project” where the words of St. Teresa of Avila were written:
Christ has no body now but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes with which he looks (with)
Compassion on the world
God’s work includes creating, redeeming, and sustaining creation. God’s will for creation is that it flourish. So when we love and tend to our planet with compassion for all of its creatures, respect its integrity as a community of life, protect and share its bounty, preserve and take joy its beauty, live sustainably as good stewards, there, we will find the Risen Christ and a glimpse heaven in our midst.
To see more of the “50 Days of Heaven” project: http://50dh.blogspot.com/
*This reflection is an adaptation and abbreviation of a sermon delivered by T. DeLisio at Church of Our Savior on “Green Sunday,” May 22, 2011.