“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; God has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”—Isaiah 12:2,3 Continue reading
“Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’”—Genesis 28: 16
In Jacob’s dream he sees a stairway to heaven with angels ascending and descending it. He named the place Bethel, “the place of God.” The ancient Celts called such spots “thin places,” where the distance between heaven and earth collapses.
Thin places can be famous holy spots such as the Isle of Iona or the Cathedral de Notre Dame, but more often than not they are ordinary places, such as Bethel, or a dusty road on the way to Damascus.
You can search for thin places, but, as with Jacob, it is more likely that they will find you.
Such unexpected encounters with the Holy seem to happen in times of crisis: Jacob running away from home, Saul on his way to persecute the church.
Is it the place itself that allows for these glimpses of the advent of God? Or is it some special state of mind and heart? Either way there are times and places when the ordinarily reliable distinction between heaven and earth gets erased.
Even if we see no burning bush or ladder to heaven, nor hear the voice of Jesus, we are no less certain that we have come upon a thin place, and can say, as Jacob did, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”
Prayer: Keep us alive and alert, O God, in all places and times, that we may not miss the moments of your visitation.
(This is my daily devotional for today from “Wonder,” the United Church of Christ’s 2015 Advent Devotional booklet. Photo meme by Pilgrim Press)
“Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord; for he is coming” –Psalm 96: 12, 13.
“What are these excitable trees singing and clapping about? They are celebrating the coming of God, a coming worth getting excited about, full of promise for the restoration, judging, cleansing and healing of all things. And this coming will not be only for people and nations, but for all that belongs to the Creator, “the whole earth and everything in it. Which means that our Advent hope for the coming of God is not a private “spiritual” matter, but a hope of quite cosmic proportions.” (From “Tear Open the Heavens” Advent Devotion 2014. The United Church of Christ)
This devotional of mine for December 22 from the UCC Advent Devotionals was made into a very moving YOUTUBE video. Thanks to Katherine Schofield for this. I tried to put the eschatology back into Advent, and I think she captured it.