Thursday 12 November 2020

Bible Book:

And he was afraid, and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’ (v. 17)

Genesis 28:10-22 Thursday 12 November 2020

Psalm 22:19-31


This could well be the time that Jacob least expected to encounter God. He was on the run after taking Esau’s birthright. He had nothing. He didn’t even have a safe shelter for the night. And yet God came to Jacob as he slept in the open air and transformed the nondescript place into a gateway to heaven.

We’re quite good at choosing where we see God. Over generations we have created buildings where we might feel God’s presence more closely, and Christians have taken pilgrimages to places where they hope to connect with God. It may be particularly difficult now that due to coronavirus restrictions we are unable to worship together in a church building, but it may also be a time when we discover God’s presence in somewhere quite ordinary.

For those who have been excluded from traditional places of worship, this passage is particularly encouraging. It shows how God's presence may be revealed to anyone anywhere: to the person on the run – perhaps because their family does not accept them; or to the person without a safe shelter – perhaps because they are fleeing from war. God is actively going to those most in need of God’s presence.

As part of my job at the Council of Christians and Jews, I meet people who may be excluded from church due to their gender, gender identity, sexuality, race, disability and/or mental health. It’s a stark reminder of how often we seek – whether subconsciously or deliberately – to control who enters into God’s presence. But hearing their stories is also a reminder that God’s presence cannot be limited and God is alongside the excluded. So if we want to know God better we cannot place any restrictions on where we expect to find God, because even the most nondescript place can be "the gate of heaven".

To Ponder:

  • Have you experienced God’s presence somewhere unexpected?
  • Who could you help feel welcome in your church community?
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