“… who is in Heaven,” cont.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is bringing us to what is real. Our life on earth is real enough; if it wasn’t, there would be no incarnation. The advent of Jesus affirms that the material world and time is good, real, and redeemable. We humans, however, can make this life very unreal by setting our love and passion on transient things that ultimately break away like dust in our hands when we grasp them. Moreover, when we see everything falling apart around us, we tend to be overcome with our problems; they become so big that we cannot see over them─they become ultimate, not God. Our world becomes unreal and our life in it becomes like a hazy dreamlike state, sort of a sleep-walk, where we go through our motions and no longer know what is true.

It is with this in mind that Our Lord locates God the Father “in Heaven.” He is not detached and unconcerned, dwelling far above our struggles as Browning’s poem suggest. Rather, the Father dwells in ultimate reality, in glory, where everything is as it should be. Moreover, heaven is not reserved just for God; it is, in fact, our home. To understand the Lord’s Prayer, it is critical to preface each phrase of it with “Our Father.” Sure, God and heaven may seem very remote at times, but the fact that Jesus encourages us to address God as Father makes the notion of heaven a warm, natural, and approachable place. Faith teaches us that heaven and earth were originally made to be one, and that what was split apart from the fall of humanity will one day be brought together in eternal glory. Faith is a higher form of knowledge then our mere analytic and rational mode of knowledge.

Advent is a time where we prepare ourselves for the revelation of Christ in our lives, an anticipation of glory. Let us bend our hearts and minds to our Father in heaven, who lives in ultimate reality. Let us, with the help of Christ, bring down the mountains of pride, those illusions we tend to live in, and lift up the valleys of despair, making a smooth path through the wild regions of the heart. We will then live in true reality, and not a lie, carrying heaven with us in our hearts.

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