A Heavenly Story

A man died and went to Heaven.

When he arrived, an angel showed him around. There were lots of large buildings and they began to walk past them. They passed one building and there were sounds of splashing and singing. The man asked who was inside.

“Ah yes,” said the angel, “Those are the Baptists.”

Next they passed a building full of chanting, with smells of incense wafting out.

“That’s the Catholics,” explained the angel.

Then they came to a building with candles twinkling in the windows and choirs singing.

“That’s the Anglicans,” said the angel.

Then they came to a building that was very noisy, lots of laughing, guitars and people were singing the same songs over and over again.
“That’s the Pentecostals” said the angel.

On they walked, passing many different buildings, each one with a slightly different style. Then they stopped and the angel asked the man to take off his shoes. They walked forwards very slowly, not speaking, silently, until they had passed a large building. The man could see many people inside, but the angel warned him to not make a sound.

At the end of the tour, the man thanked the angel but he had to ask, “What was the building that we had to creep past?” Why did they need to be so quiet? he wondered.

“Ah, well,” said the angel, “the people in that church think they’re the only ones here.”

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This is a story that my Dad used to tell. I think its blunt humour is still very relevant today, when surely one of the greatest wrongs in the modern church is a pride in our own theology, an unwillingness to really believe that we might not have it all sorted, that perhaps there is more to God than we fully understand.

Dad was good at little sayings and stories. I remember him giving me advice when we were looking for a church to join.

“Anne,” he said, “you will never find the perfect church. But if you do, don’t join it. You will spoil it.”

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