September 14, 2014: Where is God?

Posted on : Sep 11th, 2014 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Have you ever totally messed up your life? Made your own chaos? Found yourself all alone and uncertain about what to do, where to go, or how to get there? Welcome to Jacob’s world! Jacob, the “Heel-grabber” (deceitful younger brother) who bought his brother’s birthright and stole his father’s blessing, was “on the run.” His older brother, Esau, was so furious at him, he was out to kill him. Jacob, by the way, was not the first, nor will he be the last, to find himself in this mess.

This Sunday we continue with the story of Jacob. In this portion of the story Jacob realizes there is a price to pay for his actions. He may have gained his father’s blessing, but he also lost his integrity. Not unlike us in times of crisis, Jacob is “on the run,” run-down, spiritually dry, afraid/terrified, and deeply senses the absence of God in his life. Like us, I rather imagine he figures he did such a bad thing that he doesn’t believe God is anywhere near. So he crashes in the desert, and finds a rock that he uses as a pillow. Momma’s boy, Jacob, is literally between a rock and hard place. He falls asleep and has a profound and vivid dream. If dreams are the way our subconscious thoughts become known, Jacob has quite a revelation.

In this dream Jacob “saw” a ladder coming down from heaven. (Yes, this is where the spiritual “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder” comes from.) Running up and down the rungs of the ladder were angels. God was there standing over Jacob. God “said” to Jacob, “Know that I am with you. I will keep you safe wherever you go, and bring you back to this land; I will not desert you before I have done all that I have promised you.” (And this is the text from which our closing song, “Wherever you go, God is with you” comes from.)

When Jacob awakens from his dream, he says “OMG (so to speak) Surely God is in this place, and I never knew it!”

But what “place” is Jacob speaking about? What if God is not in Heaven? What if God is not above us? Then where is God?

Jacob’s dream is a wonderful story about finding where God is in our lives, and where “heaven” is.   Where is God in the difficult times of our lives, and the good times? Why does God so often feel so distant? Why do we continue to believe God is not with us or far away? On Sunday we will explore this ancient story from a new perspective. And to help us, we’ll have one of John August Swanson’s newest art works, “The Ascent,” which is based on Jacob’s dream.

Blessings,

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Genesis 28: 10 – 19

Jacob’s dream – climbing the ladder in search of God.

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he passed the night there. He took a rock and used it for a headrest and lay down to sleep there. During the night he had a dream: there was a ladder, standing on the ground with its top reaching to heaven; and messengers of God were going up and coming down the ladder. Our God was there, standing over him, saying, “I am Your God, the God of Sarah and Abraham, and the God of Rebecca and Isaac. Your descendants will be like the specks of dust on the ground; you will spread to the east and to the west, to the north and to the south, and all the tribes of the earth will bless themselves by you and your descendants. Know that I am with you. I will keep you safe wherever you go, and bring you back to this land; I will not desert you before I have done all that I have promised you.”

Then Jacob woke and said, “Truly, Our God is in this place, and I never knew it!” He was filled with trembling and said, “How awe-inspiring this place is! This is nothing less than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven!” Jacob rose early the next morning, and took the stone he had used as a headrest and set it up as a monument, and anointed it with oil. Jacob named the place Bethel – “House of God.”

Leave a Reply