URC Daily Devotion 20 November 2023

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Monday, 20 November 2023  
Heaven 1


Genesis 1.1–5
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
In the very first verse of the very first book of the Bible, we are told that God ‘created the heavens and the earth’. And for much of the history of the Church, belief in the existence of heaven was central to the Christian life.
But in truth, many Christians do not seem to think about heaven much at all any more. It still crops up in prayers and liturgy from time to time … but we seldom seem to hear a sermon on heaven, read an article on heaven, or – times of grief and mourning aside – even take time to think much about heaven.
People from outside the Christian faith have even been very critical of heaven, accusing Christians of simply making it up, of creating heaven in their own image, of trying simply to avoid or escape the problems of this world. No wonder Paula Gooder writes that ‘Heaven has become … largely irrelevant to everyday life’.
More than this, however, Christians seem to have become sceptical about heaven. At best, it can seem irrelevant; at worst, perhaps we no longer even believe it really exists.
Certainly, there is always plenty to keep us busy and occupied here on earth, the good and the bad. Indeed, at times we can become so involved in this-worldly concerns that there is no time to think about heaven.
But the message at the heart of the Christian faith is that there is more to this life than this world. The very first thing that God created was heaven. And even the knowledge that there is a heaven, that there is this ‘more-than’ to the world God has created, can be a comfort and a consolation.
For, as we shall see, heaven is the place where God dwells and watches over us, and to which we are finally called.
Gracious God, 
You are the gracious Creator not only of this earth, but of the heavens above.
Help us to recognise that there is more to this life than this world with its trials and troubles. And let us know the comfort that this knowledge brings. May we lift our eyes to think more about heaven, and to ponder once again with our minds and our hearts its wonder and its mystery.  Amen.

Today’s writer

Professor Paul Nimmo, King’s Chair of Systematic Theology at the University of Aberdeen. 

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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