July 23, 2017, Sermon Surely the Lord is in this place Genesis 28:10-19a By J.R. Atkins, Candler School of Theology, 3rd Year MDiv Student Please pray with me: “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” I awoke from my sleep the other morning, refreshed and ready for the day. I was well rested, my mind free of troubles, eager to approach the day, my heart full of love for the opportunities of a new day. Could this be what Jacob felt in our scripture reading? “Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” 17 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.”” What is the context of Jacob? For Jacob, this is one of many nights and mornings he will have on his trip to Haran which is in modern day Turkey. According to Google Maps, it’s about a 14-hour drive by car from Beersheba to Haran. If Jacob was walking, it was more like a 2-week journey through the wilderness. If you have been out in the desert of this land, you can imagine walking up and down the terrain or around the curves of the hills. Can you imagine traveling by caravan in the heat we have this summer? As I left the Jordan Valley last week, it was 44 degrees Celsius or 111 degrees Fahrenheit? It was very hot. – Yet, as day turns to night, and the sun is setting, Jacob prepares to rest for the night. Taking a rock to support his head, he lays down and goes to sleep. Jacob dreams of a ladder to heaven and God speaks to him about the land. God tells Jacob that he will be with him until he has done what he promised. When Jacob awakes and says, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” What an experience! As I reflected on this passage and its meaning, I began to wonder how often we might have a similar experience to Jacob. When might we say, “Surely the Lord is in this place.” What it means to Rest. What is it like for you when you awake fully rested for the day ahead? How do we get this kind of rest so that we too might wake up as Jacob did? Is there any action on our part that would lead us to have a similar experience as Jacob? This summer, I have been watching the pace and activity of the people near me: my friends in ministry, people volunteering and working at Non-Governmental Organizations, shop owners, farmers, business people, university faculty, staff, and students….