Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Into thin air


Today is the feast of St Michael and All Angels, with its Old Testament reading from Genesis 28:10-17.

Jacob finds himself at the outset of a long journey. Unable to carry on, for now, he stops for the night, in a certain place. The place matters, but it has no name, nothing there, only a stone for a pillow and the ground for a bed. And as he sleeps, Jacob dreams grandiose dreams. Contrary to the English rendering ‘ladder’ he dreams of a ziggurat, a tower of ramps and terraces, rising to the heavens. The template is that of the mythic Tower of Babel, an early attempt of a people to build a lasting name for themselves. Such is where Jacob would expect to meet with God. Such is how he would seek to be remembered.

And, in grace, God does meet with Jacob in his dream, with angels descending and ascending the tower, just as they had gone down to find out what the tower of babel was all about. And God promises that he will go with Jacob, and bless him, to be a blessing to others. But what will that look like? Being scattered to the four winds (again, like babel, though this time as blessing rather than curse, as redemption after constraints).

Jacob awakes to realise that God was present in this place. This empty place. Not the ziggurat of his vain imagination.

So where is God when your dreams vanish into thin air?


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