Everywhere We Go

I have been traveling this summer more than I expected. Orlando. Toronto. Niagara Falls. Evanston. Denver. Still to come- Fresno, Yosemite, Seattle, British Columbia. It is… fun. A privilege. But also disconcerting. 

I am a person of routine. I have been fortunate enough to build a life where I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually fed from dependable sources. My days have predictable rhythms. But recent Sundays were spent at a crowded Lake Erie beach and an Israeli brunch buffet. My body is confused. This is not my usual. 

The local synagogue makes sense to me. Where we greet each other by name, and most of the songs are familiar.  I know where to find God at home. I exercise, listen, read and write. But occasionally I get weary. I pack too much into my schedule. The intensity seems unsustainable. And sometimes we need to get away. 

Jacob left Beer-sheba and set out for Haran. He dreamed and saw a raised staircase, its foundation on earth and its top touching the sky, and God’s messengers were ascending and descending on it. Suddenly the Lord was standing on it and saying, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.” Genesis 28:10,12-13a (CEB)

God surprised Jacob, asleep in an unfamiliar place. Alone. Away from his ordinary life. He thought perhaps he had left his family’s God behind. Back in the land of promise. He was traveling to a place of unknown gods. Out under the stars, what was his identity apart from home?

Sometimes, I too am surprised to find God on my journeys. Like Jacob, I am not always looking or listening. I’ve traveled outside the fold of the elders. I don’t feel God in this place. I don’t seem all that faithful. I have returned to my civilian status. Away from my calling, my position, I am just any random person. 

“I am with you now, I will protect you everywhere you go, and I will bring you back to this land.” Genesis 28:15a (CEB)

But Jacob is not alone. He has not left his identity behind. The promise goes with him. He is seen. Loved. Protected. When he feels unknown, in a godless foreign place, God is there. 

God goes with me. And with you, too. Even when we are in unknown places, alone or unidentified in the crowd. The promises the Lord has made go with us. God is here. And travels with me. Not just wherever I go. But everywhere I go. And will bring me back to where I belong. The place that I have been given. 

When Jacob woke from his sleep, he thought to himself, The Lord is definitely in this place, but I didn’t know it. Genesis 28:16 (CEB)

Jacob thinks it is about location. Where is God? Is God in this place? Our surroundings impact us profoundly. Being away from home. Ungrounded by routine and faith community. Perhaps we wake and realize that the Lord is also in this place, even if we didn’t know it. 

The Creator of the Universe is in all the places, watching over the stars under which we sleep. But God is about relationship, more than location. Not just that the Lord is here, in whatever place we find ourselves. But that God is with us. Not far away. That the Lord wants to speak to us, be connected to each of us, personally.

Wherever you are today, may you become aware of God’s presence. With you now. Protecting you everywhere you go. And bringing you back again. 

RenéeBulletin: 7/7
Order of Service: 7/7
Sermon: How Love Moves -2 Kings 5 
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