Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Does heaven have gravity?

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Delray Beach, Florida
7 Easter - Year A (RCL) - June 4/5, 20011
Acts 1:6- 14; Ps. 68; John 17: 1 -11
Preacher: The Reverend Canon William H. Stokes, Rector

Does heaven have gravity?

While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.  They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”   Acts 1:9 - 11

        The following conversation which took place between St. Paul’s member Gillian Lopez and her daughter Phee was reported on Gillian’s Facebook page this past Friday:

            “Phee: Mummy, do you float around in heaven, or does heaven have gravity?” 
            Gillian: “Err, what do you think, Phee?” 
            I suggested in a Facebook comment to Gillian’s post that she might find the wonderful book Where does God live by Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Tom Hartman, the so-called “God Squad,” helpful.[1]
            Gellman and Hartman’s book provides parents, and others, helpful answers to children’s questions about God; questions such as: “Is God real?”  “What does God look like?” and “Where does God live?”
            Gillian informed me, and anyone who was following the exchange on Facebook, that in response to Gillian’s query, “Errr....what do you think Phee?” Phee expressed her opinion “that heaven has gravity, except on Sundays when it's a free floating day, so that we may nap on clouds without falling through as we usually would!”  Well, that answers that!
            This past Thursday we observed the Feast of the Ascension, and on this, the Sunday following, the 7th Sunday of Easter, we live in the liturgical and theological tension of the time between Christ having ascended into heaven which asserts, in some sense, his absence from us; and the giving of the promised gift of the Holy Spirit which then mediates his presence in and through us again. 
            The bestowal of the gift of the Holy Spirit is alluded to in the reading from Acts which we heard as our first reading.[2] We’ll celebrate that gift of the Holy Spirit all this week during Vacation Bible School and especially next Sunday on the Feast of Pentecost when everyone will wear red, so don’t forget: Wear Red!!
             Today, though, I thought we might be a little heavenly minded; not so heavenly minded that we’re of no earthly good; but heavenly minded enough to consider what we mean when we speak of heaven....What is it we are talking about when we use this word “heaven,” which does, heaven help us, get thrown around a lot!
            Of course the word “heaven” is used in today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles.  The book of Acts has sometimes been referred to as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit; because the work of the Holy Spirit figures so prominently in it....In Acts, the power and work of the Holy Spirit is the driving force behind the growth of the nascent apostolic Church....
            Our reading was taken from chapter 1, the very first chapter....What an appropriate story for the opening of Acts.  Here in the first chapter, we hear of the last experience of the Apostles with their resurrected Lord, their resurrected Lord and ours too....He has a last word for them...It’s a word of promise.
            Oh they’re still distracted with other concerns, as they were when they walked with Jesus during his earthly ministry....They still have their minds set on some of the wrong things...They asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”(Acts 1:6).  It appears that they want to return to something that is past, as so many people today seem to long for the good old days, when everything was hunky dory....
            It seems they want to see a return to the days when Israel was great and glorious; as it was in the days of Kings David and Solomon....And it is likely their motives for this are not the purest.  Since they are so close to Jesus, and they believe he is the new King David, they probably imagine themselves in the seats of power and glory with Jesus....They probably also yearn to throw off the Roman yoke of oppression....
            In asking the question of Jesus they are both asking for too much and imagining too little.  In casting their eyes backward, they don’t comprehend that Jesus and his proclamation of the kingdom of God are about something entirely new and beyond their imagination... Jesus responds to them, “It is not for you to know the times or the periods that the Father has set by his own authority”(Acts 1:7).  
            Jesus is telling them, “You be concerned about what God wants you to be concerned about, and let God be concerned about what God should be concerned about.”  But he doesn’t just shoot them and their question down...No, he also makes them a promise....“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses [the word in Greek is MARTYROS in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). 
            That’s what they are to be concerned about:  Christ’s mission; being his witnesses, his MARTYROS from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth....
            “When he had said this,” the text tells us, “as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).  We’re told further, that “while he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them”(Acts 1:10).  These are now familiar figures to us.
            We first encountered them, or some beings like them, on Easter morning at the empty tomb.  We are meant to understand them as angels, God’s messengers...They said to Jesus’ followers, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?  This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you have seen him go into heaven”(1:11). 
            In short, they are saying to Jesus’ followers, stop gawking and go do what he told you.  He’ll be back; in the meantime, go wait for the promised gift, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and then get to the work of mission and ministry!  I’ll come back to that, but for now let’s be a little heavenly minded and gaze with them and gawk with them for a few moments, looking at heaven....What is it we mean by this word?  How do we understand heaven?
            A few weeks ago, long-time St. Paul’s member Charlie Simon gave me a book that he had read which he found both moving and provocative....It made him wonder; wonder about heaven....The book is titled Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back.[3] It’s written by Todd Burpo a pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska (professional writer Lynn Vincent assisted him).  
            In Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo tells about what happened after his just under four-year-old son Colton made it through and emergency appendectomy.  According to the rear book-cover states, his family was “overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren’t expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed.”[4]
            Colton...told his parents “he left his body during the surgery – and authenticated that claim,” the rear book-cover states, “by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital while he was being operated on.  He talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in life, sharing events that happened even before he was born. He…astonished his parents with descriptions and obscure details about heaven that matched the Bible exactly, though he had not yet learned to read.”[5]
            Here’s a little selection from the book which corresponds nicely with our reading from Acts this morning.  In the chapter, now 4 year old Colton is playing with some toy action figures about to go into battle.    Todd Burpo writes, “Remember when you were telling me what Jesus looks like? And about the horse?
            [Colton] nodded, eyes wide and earnest.
            You were in heaven?”
            He nodded again…
            “Well, what did you do in heaven?” I ventured.
Homework?  That wasn’t what I was expecting.  Choir practice, maybe, but homework? “What do you mean?”
            Colton smiled.  “Jesus was my teacher.”
            “Like school?”
             Colton nodded.  “Jesus gave me work to do, and that was my favorite part of heaven.  There were lots of kids, Dad.”[6]
            A few lines later, this exchange tales place. Todd Burpo asks his son, “So what did the kids look like?  What do people look like in heaven”
            “Everybody’s got wings,” Colton said.
            Wings, huh “Did you have wings?”
            “Yeah, but mine weren’t very big.”  Todd writes, “He          looked a little glum when he said this.
            “Okay....but did you walk places or did you fly?”
            “We flew. Well, all except for Jesus. He was the only one in heaven who didn’t have wings.  Jesus went up and down like an elevator.”[7]
            Todd Burpo writes: “The book of Acts flashed into my head, the scene of Jesus’ ascension when Jesus told the disciples that they would be his witnesses that they would tell people all over the world about him.  After he had said this, the Scripture says, Jesus ‘was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight...Jesus went up.  And will come down.  Without wings.  To a kid, that could look like an elevator.”[8]
            I read Heaven is for Real and I have to confess, I don’t know what to make of little Colton’s “out of body” experience...In many ways, what he described has been described by others, including adults who have gone through a similar thing.  The book is worth reading and provokes a lot of good questions.  I’ve decided we’ll use it for one of the book discussions later this summer and Barbara will order copies so that you can read it. 
            But even this little snippet begs the question, “What do we understand heaven to be?  Is it a primarily a physical place?  Is it primarily a state of existence? Is it something between the two?
            In the back of the Book of Common Prayer, on page 862 in our “Outline of the Faith” the question is asked, “What do we mean by heaven and hell?”  The answer given states, “By heaven, we mean eternal life in our enjoyment of God; by hell we mean eternal death in our rejection of God.”[9]  I like this response though it is, admittedly, vague.  It certainly leans toward the notion that heaven is more a state of existence than a physical place, I am inclined to lean that way too.
            In the biblical world, and especially the Old Testament, heaven was clearly a place.....As Walter A. Ellwell and Philip W. Comfort state in their Tyndale Bible Dictionary, “Heaven” is “the realm (or realms) designated by the Hebrew term used to represent the sky and air and also heaven.  The form of the word in Hebrew is dual (implying two of something).  Although the dual form may only represent an ancient devise for expressing the plural, it is supposed by some to imply the existence of a lower and an upper heaven - a physical and a spiritual heaven.”[10] 
            “The [Old Testament] writers,” Ellwell and Comfort note, “viewed the physical heavens as a ‘firmament’ appearing as a great arch supported on foundations and pillars....and spread out above the earth, with rain descending through its doors....”[11] (We could sure use those doors opening in South Florida about now.)
            They continue, “In the New Testament, this notion of the vaulted expanse of the sky as the region in which the elements, clouds and tempests gather and birds fly is continued...”  A little later in their definition, they speak of the “Third Heaven” as “a place reached by the souls of the blessed as they pass through the two lower regions of the atmosphere and outer space containing the celestial bodies, and enter the uttermost reaches of the universe.”[12]
            The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church,[13] a classic reference work for Anglicans, says about “heaven” that it is “the dwelling place of God and the angels, and ultimately of all the redeemed, wherein they receive their eternal reward.”[14]  ODCC notes that “The early Christians accepted the contemporary Jewish and Hellenistic conceptions of a series of heavens together with that of angelic and demonic powers existing in the heavens over whom Christ since his resurrection and ascension reigns supreme with the Father ‘far above all heavens.”[15] 
            Later in the definition, ODCC states, “Catholic theology regards heaven as ‘a place’ but claims no knowledge of its spatial characteristics or its relation to the physical universe, stressing rather the essential quality of the life of heaven which consists in the ‘enjoyment of the Beatific Vision’[16] [that is the eternal and perfected vision of God]....ODCC concludes, “Virtually all Christians, while making greater or lesser reservations about details, would agree that heaven is essentially the fulfillment, to a degree impossible on earth, of what is the chief end of humankind....that is, to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”[17]
            Well, I don’t know if any of this is helpful to you or not; but perhaps it’s gotten you to think more deeply and seriously about the question and meaning of heaven…Now, however, we’ve been heavenly minded long enough. It’s time to hear the question of the two men dressed in white in today’s reading from Acts, “Why do you stand looking up into heaven?” (Acts 1:11)   
            It’s time to come down to planet earth again, and recognize that heaven will come to us, or we will get to heaven in God’s good time.  In the meantime, in the “in-between time,” we still have lots to do....The gift of the Holy Spirit has been promised, and it will come to us anew, with new fire, new light and new love, if we are receptive to it....And that same Spirit calls us into the world, to witness to Jesus, to witness to his love....and, perhaps even, to help bring about heaven here, right here, on this planet where we “live and move and have our being.”[18] 
            In closing, let me share some words and thoughts of contemporary poet Raymond Foss which I think are an especially appropriate ending.  It’s from his poem “Something of Heaven” which is one of 12,000 poems that can be found on his blog site, Poetry Where You Live:[19]  Foss writes,  
Something of heaven
can be here with us
out of the dialogue
the hearing of the message
the voice of God
a relationship, a way of life
emboldening us, lifting us
within the realities of earth;
something of heaven here.

[1]   Gellman, Marc and Hartman, Thomas Where Does God Live:  Questions and Answers for Parents and Children (Liquori Missouri: Liquori Publications, 1996).  
[2]   Acts 1:6- 14
[3]   Burpo, Todd, with Vincent, Lynette  Heaven is for Real:  A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back  (Nashville, Dallas, etc:  Thomas Neslon Publishers, 2010) 
[4]   Heaven is for Real, Rear book-jacket
[5]    Heaven is for Real, Rear book-jacket
[6]    Heaven is for Real, pp. 71 - 72
[7]    Heaven is for Real,  pp. 72 -73
[8]    Heaven is for Real,  p. 72
[9]   “Outline of the Faith” Book of Common Prayer 1979, p. 862
[10]   See ‘Heaven” in Tyndale Bible Dictionary ed.  Elwell, Walter A. and Comfort, Philip W (Wheaton, Illinois:  Tyndale House Publishers,  2001)
[11]   T.B.D.
[12]   T.B.D.
[13]   See “Heaven” in Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church  ed. F.L. Cross (Oxford and New York:           Oxford University Press, 1997)
[14]  O.D.C.C.
[15]  O.D.C.C.
[16]  O.D.C.C.
[17]  O.D.C.C.
[18]  See Acts 17:8
[19]  Foss, Raymond “Something of Heaven” June 2007 See  http://raymondafoss.blogspot.com/2007_06_10_archive.html (used with permission).

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Lady Gaga, Paul in Athens and Bad Romance!

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Delray Beach, Florida
6 Easter - Year A (RCL) - May 28/29, 2011
Acts 17:22 - 31; Ps. 66:7-18; John 14:15-21
Preacher; The Reverend Canon William H. Stokes, Rector

Lady Gaga, Paul in Athens and Bad Romance!
(A sermon preached at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Delray Beach)           
Any Good Morning America fans here?  Did you catch GMA on Friday morning?  It’s the beginning of the GMA’s Summer Concert series and they scored a major coupe in entertainment circles; they got Lady Gaga to kick-off the series...She made a grand entrance in outrageous fashion coming down out of the trees in Central Park on a zip-line which whisked her to the concert stage.[1] 
There was something of an awkward moment as they disconnected her and got her out of the harness so that she could perform her opening number “Bad Romance.”   Thousands of people were at the concert.  Lady Gaga calls her fans her “little monsters.” According to the GMA website, some of these “little monsters” had been camping out at the Concert Stage area of Central Park since Tuesday morning waiting for to see their idol.[2]  Lady Gaga is huge!
            Earlier this month,  she hit the 10 million “follower” mark on Twitter....That’s a record number of followers for that social media site....She’s just ahead of Justin Beiber. Lady Gaga’s tweet to her followers upon hitting the record? "10 MillionMonsters! I'm speechless, we did it! It’s an illness how I love you."[3]  The bigger illness, I think, is how much they love her...
            Lady Gaga, the latest manifestation of the so-called “Glam Rock” stars, symbolizes the apex of the cult of celebrity today...Forbes Magazine designated her #1 on their list of the “world’s most powerful celebrities.”  Forbe’s criteria for this?  Income, Google hits, fan base, press clips and magazine covers.[4]
            The Los Angeles blog “Ministry of Gossip” the self-designated “Gospel on Celebrity and Pop Culture” had to say about Lady Gaga’s GMA stint on Friday: “The petite blond mother monster quite literally flew onto "Good Morning America's" Central Park stage, kicking off its summer-long concert series to promote her new record, "Born This Way."  Sailing on a wire through a crowd of little monsters, as her fans are called, to perform "Bad Romance," her ladyship followed up the song by chatting with Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos.   "You love to make an entrance," Roberts told a breathless Gaga.  "I live halfway between reality and theater at all times," she said.[5]
            Lady Gaga is an intriguing and controversial figure....She has done a lot of philanthropic work, including major financial contributions:  She held a benefit concert for Haiti following the earthquake which raised $500,000.   She joined forces with a company that made prayer bracelets for Japan following the Tsunami and raised $1.5 million for the victims of that disaster.  In June she is appearing in a concert in Japan for Japan Red Cross, all benefits will go to those still suffering the effects of the Earthquake and Tsunami…She is a strong advocate and voice for LGBT issues in the world.[6] 
            During the GMA interview with Roberts and Stephanopoulos, Lady Gaga fielded questions from the audience that came in via Twitter.  One fan asked what she’d do if she ever had a day off.  Her answer, "I would like to hang out with my fans and have it not be me…I'd just be one of them."[7] 
Lady Gaga does a lot of things to shock, surprise and delight and offend.... More than anything, I think, Lady Gaga is capitalizing on contemporary culture’s obsession with celebrity...Celebrity is one of our modern day forms of idolatry.  People quite literally worship the ground their chosen celebrities walk on…And just think of the name of this country’s #1 most viewed television program – “American Idol.”[8]   I love a good show and a good performer as much as the next person, but there are, or should be limits to our adoration.
            Today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles is one of my favorites.[9]  We heard it on Easter Day this year and I referred to it in my Easter sermon...It’s about Paul in Athens…Actually, the story of Paul in Athens begins a few verses before this morning’s reading...
            To set it up, we need to know that Paul had been in Thessalonica where he stirred up trouble by telling people about Jesus and proclaiming the resurrection (Acts 17:1 – 9).  He then went to Beroea, also in Greece to do the same (Acts 17:10).  According to Acts, the people he had offended in Thessalonica found out he was in Beroea continuing to cause trouble, at least from their perspective, and so they went to Berea and incited the crowd against him (Acts 17:10 – 14).  
            Local Christian believers, concerned about Paul’s welfare, conducted him safely to Athens, where they left him to wait for his colleagues Timothy and Silas (Acts 17:15).  Acts tells us, “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols.   So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there”  (Acts 17:16 – 17).  Paul just can’t help himself! 
            Acts informs us that “some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, ‘What does this babbler want to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities’” (Acts 17:18)
            Acts explains that “this was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection” (Acts 17:18).  “So they took him and brought him to the Areopagus” (Acts 17:19).  The Areopagus....or “hills of Ares” is very near the Parthenon up on the acropolis. The criminal and civil courts were held at the Areopagus and it was also a place where people who were teaching might be brought so that the content of their teaching could be questioned by local officials...That’s apparently what’s going in here with Paul.  
            They asked him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means" (Acts 17:20).  The author of Acts makes a side comment that could be made today about New York, or London or Paris or any of a host of places in our world today, perhaps even Delray Beach and Boca Raton.  The author of Acts says, “Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new”  (Acts 17:21).
            And it’s right at that point that our reading for today begins... “Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way” (Acts 17:22).  [Do we detect some sarcasm here?  Very likely!] He continues, “For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you”  (Acts 17:23 – 24).   
            I’m always captivated by this verse with its notion of “an unknown God.”   It’s clear that the Athenians had lots of shrines and temples for its pantheon of Gods - Apollo, Zeus, Dionysius, Athena to whom the Parthenon was dedicated.  But apparently, they also had a shrine dedicated to the so-called unknown God; that is, they were mindful that there might be a God with which they were unfamiliar to them, one who remained a mystery, who was not revealed to them, and so they kept a shrine to this -unknown God “just in case.”
            With no small degree of shrewdness, Paul sees this as an opportunity, not only to make this unknown God, known to them, but also to challenge them about their idolatry.  He preaches a sermon about “The God who made the world and everything in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, who does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything…” (Acts 17:24 – 25).
            In a none-too-veiled reference to Abraham, he tells them that “From one ancestor [this God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth [allotting] the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live,  so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him, though,” Quoting one of the own poets, Paul informs them “he is not far from each one of us….For 'In him we live and move and have our being'… for we too are his offspring’” (Acts 17:26 – 28).   
            With this statement, with this recognition, Paul’s thought is very much in keeping with that of Jesus himself as he addresses his disciples at the Last Supper in today’s Gospel reading[10].  “If you love me you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.  This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you” (John 14:15 – 17).  
            Set, as it is in John’s Gospel, during the Last Supper (cf John 13:1), Jesus is anticipating both his imminent death…But he is also anticipating the gift of the Holy Spirit, which will be given to his disciples after his death to abide with them and in them!
            John scholar and commentator D. Moody Smith informs us what this word “advocate,” (in Greek parakleto) means and what the implications of its use are, writing: “parakleto means literally one called to the side of, an advocate or attorney....This parakleto does not function so much to advocate the disciples cause before God as to mediate the presence of Jesus to the disciples...As Jesus successor among the disciples...the Spirit-Paraclete is portrayed as having the same provenance and role as Jesus except that its stay among the disciples will not be temporary but permanent.”[11]    
            "I will not leave you orphaned, “Jesus says to that gathered group of his disciples at the Last Supper… I am coming to you.  In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.  They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them" (John 14:18 – 21).
            And as I indicated in my sermon last week, when I called into the question the distortions and aberration of the “rapture theology” that seems to have captured the minds and imaginations of too many people today,[12] it is essential to recognize that this revealing of Jesus is not so that we can be grabbed midair and taken up into heaven….Rather, it is so that we can be co-workers with and in God in trying to bring heaven to earth…
            In his classic work De Trinitate, St. Augustine of Hippo, perhaps the greatest theologian in the history of the western church wrote, “....it is the Holy Spirit, of whom He has given us, who makes us dwell in God, and God in us.  But that is the effect of love.  The Holy Spirit himself therefore is the God who is love...God the Holy Spirit who proceeds from God is the one who, when given to us, sets us on fire with the love of God and of our neighbour, and is himself, love.”[13]
            Professor John Maquarrie, a modern theologian who is very much in the mainstream of Anglican thought and theology, gives expression to this when he writes about the work of the Holy Spirit in his book Principles of Christian Theology         “The highest workings of the Spirit are to be seen not in bizarre forms of ecstasy but in personal and ethical qualities which can be considered truly ‘ecstatic’ in so far as they draw human beings out of themselves and their narrow self-interests.” “[T]he work of the Holy Spirit,” Maquarrie writes “is simply another aspect of the reconciling work of God, and so, another aspect of the work of Christ...”[14]  It is about Christ dwelling in us, and through us, about Christ continuing to dwell in the world.
            It is Memorial Day weekend….a time when we are to recall those who, in our history, exemplified the depths and dearest costs of love and service for the sake of others…In too many ways and too many instances, this observance will be overshadowed and obscured by other things….It will be shouted down by the other dominant form of American idolatry which walks hand in hand with the cult of celebrity and that is the religion of consumerism….During this Memorial Day weekend, we might want to shop for a new car,  or go to Walmarts, or Disneyworld and that’s okay; but let’s try to remember what this observance is really about.
Today is also the 6th Sunday of Easter…We are a people waiting; waiting like those first disciples…We are two weeks away from Pentecost, when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit….What a profound gift this is; the gift of God dwelling with us and in us, calling us a ministry of love and reconciliation in the world in Christ’s name…Our world desperately needs this love…It desperately needs this love to live in us and through us to serve the world…Christ and his love living in us have so much more to offer us than the false idols, religions and values that vie for our attention and affection each and every day in what can be described as an ill-fated and bad romance!.

[1]   See “Lady Gaga wows crowd, Ziplines onto ‘Good Morning America’ concert stage at http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/lady-gaga-makes-zipline-arrival-good-morning-america/story?id=13694695
[2]   See “Lady Gaga wows crowd…”
[3]   See “Lady Gaga wows crowd…”
[4]   See Wikipedia “Forbes Celebrity 100” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbes_Celebrity_100
[5]   “Lady Gaga Ziplines into ‘Good Morning America’ summer concert series” from the Los Angeles Times Blog Site “Ministry of Gossip” at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/gossip/2011/05/lady-gaga-gma-zipline-performance-good-morning-america.html
[6]  See Wikipedia “Lady Gaga” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Gaga
[7]   See ‘Lady Gaga wows crowd…”
[8]    Neilsen Ratings for May 23, 2011 – see http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/top10s/television.html
[9]  Acts 17:22 - 31
[10] John 14:15- 21
[11]  Smith Jr., D. Moody  Abingdon New Testament Commentaries:  John (Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 1999),  p. 274
[12]  Stokes, William H.  “After the Rapture, what now?” Sermon preached at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Delray Beach, Florida may 23, 2011 http://chipstokesblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/after-rapture-what-now.html 
[13]  See “Augustine on the Holy Spirit” in The Christian Theology Reader edited by Alister E. McGrath (Oxford UK and Cambridge, USA:  Blackwell Publishers Inc, 1995) p. 107
[14]   Macquarrie, John Principles of Christian Theology, Second Edition (New York:  Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1977), pp.  328 – 329.