Monday, January 02, 2012

Next year in...Bethel

This morning's OT reading from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (which I highly recommend) was from Genesis 28. 10-22. Jacob is backpacking across Canaan, and like most of us who've been camping, uses a rock as a pillow (okay, so I've got a nice collapsible pillow I throw in my pack, but I'm sure I've used a rock before at some point). During the--I'm sure fitful--night's sleep, Jacob dreams about heaven, earth, and God's moving between the two. When he wakes up, he calls the place "the house of God (Bethel in Hebrew)" saying "Surely the LORD is in this place and I didn't know it!"

That's my prayer for me and you this year, that we have multiple experiences of seeing God in places where we didn't realize he was there. One of my favorite authors, Bob Benson, once wrote about the Beatitude that he didn't know which was the bigger miracle, having a pure heart or seeing God. Which one comes first? Either one is an amazing work that I can't accomplish on my own.

Clearly Jacob was no candidate for "purest heart" awards. Yet he saw God and realized that he was in a place where heaven and earth met. You and I--and we're no purest heart candidates ourselves--can see God in places where heaven and earth come together. Charles Foster in his book The Sacred Journey calls these "thin spaces" and makes this comment:

The sort of new eyes God gives aren't just, or even mainly, designed for seeing the buds you would previously have missed or the nuances of your relationship with a particular pile of rocks. They are designed to let you see Jesus in the world...

May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob show up in your thin spaces today and this year.

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