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.”


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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The Rich Man


Once upon a time, there was a man. A very rich man. He was also a very holy man. He trusted God with his life and tried his best to follow what he was taught. The man was now very very old. As the man grew old and weak, he realised that soon he would die. He trusted that when that happened, he would go to Heaven. But he was worried. He did not like the idea of going empty-handed, of not taking anything with him.

“God,” he prayed, “I know that when I die you have promised to accept me in to Heaven. And I know that I am not meant to take anything. But please, could you make an exception in this case? Could you let me take a bag with me?”

Now, God is a kind God, so he considered the man’s request very carefully. He knew that the man had tried his best to follow him during his life, that he had been generous and kind, that he had shown mercy and tried to live a good life. He knew that the man was very worried about this and God didn’t want him to be anxious. So he agreed, he told the man that he could take one small bag to Heaven.

Soon after this, as expected, the man died. He arrived in Heaven, carrying one small bag.

“Oh,” said the angel at the entrance, “you cannot bring that in here. You cannot bring anything to Heaven.”

“Yes, I know,” replied the man, “but God gave me special permission.”

So the angel went to check and sure enough, he discovered that this man was allowed to bring one small bag into Heaven. Now, word quickly spread amongst the angels and saints in Heaven and they all wondered, what had this man brought into Heaven? So they all came, eager to see.

They crowded round the man, peering over each other’s shoulders, jostling for position as the man knelt down and slowly unzipped his bag. There, shining brightly, were four solid gold bars.

There was a moment of complete silence.

Then, perplexed, one of the angels asked, “You brought pavement?”


I love this story. I heard it in church, I cannot even remember who told it but I used it many time when teaching because I think it makes a good point. When we decide to follow God, we sometimes have to let go of things and this can be hard. Whether it is our ambitions, dreams, or wealth , there is actually no point in holding on to them. What God provides is always so much better.


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