by Rev. John H. Farmer
Our Reunion In Heaven
In 2010 or so, my sweet Hazel, her sister Suzie and their cousin George W. Shelton gathered the descendants of Sammy & Ora George, late of Foxwells, for a reunion. Some of the gathered folk had never met others of kin.
Saturday lunch here, supper in the handsome pavilion at the Morattico Museum, family worship at Irvington followed by a catered luncheon filled the slate nicely. Sunday they drove down the Windmill Point Road for a photo at their ancestral George home on the Rappahannock River.
Country music of old offered us entertainment mixed with faith and wholesome family attitude. Just like life, it also rang us true with “somebody done me wrong, songs…” Many a twangy tune reminded us that we could of, should of, ought to have, done better than we did.
The old WRVA Theater, just off Broad in Richmond, and a host of public schools throughout the south held sway as the home of country greats. Later the 1892 Nashville Ryman Auditorium, a former revival tabernacle, became home to the Opry from 1943 to 1974.
Lester Flatt (1914-1979) and Earl Scruggs (b. 1924) began singing with the Grand Ole Opry at the 1945 invitation of bluegrass legend Bill Monroe. Scruggs was adroit at his three-finger picking style. Flatt was a singing guitar player. As the Foggy Mountain Boys, they quickly became famous due to their gifted talent of developing a musical life-story and easy style of delivery. The theme of much of their music was life down here and a better life to be, in heaven, some sweet day. The duo parted ways in 1969. Let’s sample a bit of heaven’s music that never made it into our hymnals.
Reunion In Heaven,
by Flatt and Scruggs
“So often down here we’ll have a reunion.
Our friends and our loved ones will be gathered around.
Some faces are missed; they have gone on to glory.
They will be there with Jesus till the trumpet shall sound.
What a wonderful time we’ll have up in glory
With the blessed redeemer forever we’ll see;
And a crown he will give on that great judgment morning.
What a happy reunion in heaven will be;
No crepes on the doors in that beautiful city,
No sorrow or pain never more over there.
But, a body we’ll have, in the savior’s own likeness;
And a mansion that Jesus said he’d go to prepare.
Chorus: I am longing to sit by the banks of the river.
There’s rest for the ones by the evergreen trees.
I am longing to look in the face of my savior,
And my loved ones who have gone, they are waiting for me.”
The Bible offers us a glimpse of a Heavenly Reunion in Psalms 24:7-10: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the king of glory shall come in. Who is this king of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle… He is the king of glory.”
Jesus, God’s only son, came to earth as a human to return to heaven as the king of saints. His ascension was worthy of his exalted nature. He went home as one mighty in battle, a conqueror, leading captivity captive. The heavenly host, amid shouts and acclamations of praise and celestial song, attended him. All heaven united in his reception.
Precious to the disciples, in the ascension of Jesus, was that he went from them into heaven in the tangible form of their divine teacher. Their last remembrance of their Lord was as the sympathizing friend, the glorified redeemer. The brightness of the heavenly escort and the opening of the glorious gates of God to welcome him were not to be seen by mortal eyes, only imagined.
If the heavenly path of Christ had been revealed to the disciples in all its inexpressible glory, they could not have endured it. They would hardly have been able to resume the burden of their earthly lives had they beheld the myriads of angels and heard the bursts of triumph from the battlements of heaven, as the everlasting doors were lifted up, the contrast between that glory and their own lives in a word of trial would have been too great.
How nice that the earthly acquaintance of the disciples with their savior should end in the solemn, quiet, manner in which it did. It was in harmony with the meekness and quiet of his life.
Today our senses should not become so infatuated with the glories of heaven that we would lose sight of the character of Christ on earth, which we are to replicate. We need to keep our minds on the beauty and majesty of his life, the perfect harmony of all his attributes and the mysterious union of the divine and human in his nature.
That same Lord awaits us for a grand and glorious reunion. I plan to be there and genuinely invite friends, neighbors and family to join me. First we have to accept the invitation held open for us by Jesus. “Believe, and you will be saved…” which is just and old fashioned way of saying, “Come on home.”