The news published early in the day, that our part of the country could possibly see a rocket launch into space. I saw the report at 7 a.m., thinking I had missed the event, not realizing until later that we’d actually have the chance at 6:45 p.m. Details go unnoticed before the coffee hits my system.
That night, after we picked my husband up from work and did the various dinner and homework routines, we dragged our porch chairs to the middle of the front yard and set our sights on the southeastern sky. Traffic rolled by as the evening darkened, and I couldn’t help but wonder what they thought of us, sitting in our yard, staring at the sky.
I called us “weirdos” because, let’s be honest, it is not normal to set up chairs on your lawn, at night, in the fall, to search the sky. To be aware that something out of the ordinary is happening when you could just go about your day.
We sat and we watched and we checked Twitter because that is where we found updates on the rocket’s launch. That night, it was canceled because of a boat nearby. Disappointed that the launch was postponed, we continued to watch the sky for the International Space Station to cross over our little piece of earth.
The minutes ticked by and I began to wonder if we’d missed it. If maybe we should head inside and get the kids to bed because it was a school night, after all, and what in the world were we still doing in the front yard after dark staring at the sky? Lunatics, I tell you.
We craned our necks to the north, hoping for a glimpse, and then suddenly, there it was! A bright light streaking across the night sky, so obviously not a star.
And in an instant the universe became both small and huge. Small because we were connected, in a way, to the people aboard the station, watching their path across our part of the earth. Huge because they and it were way up there and we were way down here and the wonder is hard to contain inside myself.
To think, we could have missed it.
The next night, we did it again, setting our chairs up in the yard, waiting for a streak of light to pass across the southeastern sky. Checking and rechecking Twitter for updates until we finally got the word that the rocket exploded not long after launching. I’m not sure who was more disappointed, the grownups or the kids.
We never saw the rocket launch but I’m not sorry we stopped what we were doing those two nights to gaze at the heavens.
Because I think this is what the kingdom of God is like.
Jesus stepped into our ordinary world. His coming was witnessed by stargazers who had studied the skies, and later announced by a man who could read the times and herald his coming. The kingdom of God is here, he said. It’s closer than you could imagine!
I wonder if anyone could feel it, that sense of the world being small and big all at the same time. If God coming close to us in the form of a man made Him all the more connected to us and all the more vast. Certainly, there was a sense of wonder.
And it’s not just that the kingdom of God came with Jesus. It’s that it’s still here now. It’s moving and building and shaping and restoring, and we can’t always see it.
But every now and then, we find people who help us see it. They’re looking beyond the ordinary day to something extraordinary. They’re in an unusual position at an unusual time to get a better glimpse of this spectacular happening. And those of us who don’t know, haven’t heard, think maybe they’re just crazy or dreamers or idealists. Why can’t they just be like everyone else and stick to what’s normal?
Still, they stand and they watch and they point and say, “Look! Can you see it? Amazing!”
And sometimes we join them and sometimes we miss it. And sometimes we see something extraordinary and sometimes we’re disappointed.
No matter what, though, we’ve opened ourselves up to the possibility of the extraordinary.
Though we didn’t see anyone else sitting in their yard looking at the sky, thanks to social media, we discovered we weren’t the only weirdos we knew.
This, too, is what the kingdom of God is like.
It is extraordinary. It is happening now. And even when we can’t see it, we can talk about it and find others who are looking for it, too.