Monday, July 17, 2017

Sacred Places

"Surely the Lord is in this place - and I did not know it!"

Jacob had a dream. In the Book of Genesis, 28:10-19a, we read of his vision of a stairway to Heaven, with God's Messengers coming and going to and from the Earth. Then we hear God tell him that he will be given a homeland, and that his blood will become a great people, spread across the globe. And that is where many of us tune out...

God is not promising us global dominion, empire, or a hive-mind - God tells Jacob (and therefor us) that ALL the families of the Earth are to be blessed by (in, through) us. Not condemned by us. Not subjugated by us. Not oppressed by us. BLESSED BY US! If we expand this to Merriam-Webster's definition of "blessed", then all the families of the world are to be: honored by us; derive pleasure from us; share contentment with us; and receive good fortune through us. Do other people consider me a blessing in their lives? Does the community feel blessed by my church? Do the nations around the globe feel blessed by my country?

Jacob's strong reaction, is to neither the vision nor the message directly, but to the normal, everyday, place where it occurred. "God is in THIS place, and I didn't even notice!" God is omnipresent, in all places at once. Every place we go is sacred space - a place of revelation. In the NIV and other translations, Jacob says: "How AWESOME is this place!"

To Jacob, this place was discovered to be holy because of the covenant he received: his family would be blessed so that it would be in a position to bless everyone else. To Jacob, this blessing is tied to the land and environment.

When I go for a hike, do I keep my eyes open for burning bushes? When I first visit someplace new, do I wonder at how awesome it is? Do I erect mental monuments to remember the holiness of each moment of communion with God? Jacob named the place where he met God "Beth-El", the House of God. Do I treat every space I occupy as God's House, or as my house?

(photography by tiwago)

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