John’s Monthly Letter


Dear Hopefulls,

This month I would like to share with you the daily
devotional sent by our United Church of Christ
denomination on May 29, 2018. The reflection is
entitled “Surely God Was In This Place.” The
author is Talitha Arnold. Here is a slightly edited
Scripture: “Surely God is in this place and I did
not know it!” Genesis 28:16
Reflection: Jacob could probably be forgiven for
not knowing that God was in the desert where he’d
spent the night with only a stone for a pillow. The
harsh landscape around him matched the
landscape of his own life. He was on the run from
his older brother Esau whom he’d tricked out of
both his birthright and also their father’s blessing.
Not surprisingly, Esau was out for his brother’s
blood. So Jacob escaped to the wilderness. That
night he dreamt of a ladder that stretched to the
heavens, filled with angels going up and down.
Nothing in the landscape around him pointed to the
possibility of such an amazing vision. No wonder
he woke from sleep and proclaimed, “Surely God
was in this place and I did not know it!” Moreover,
Jacob could have easily proclaimed, “Surely God is
in me, and I did not know it!” A conniver and a
cheat, Jacob’s interior landscape was as desolate
as the desert around him. Yet God not only gave
him a vision of angels, but also promised to be with
him and his offspring. Jacob’s angelic vision
reminds us that God is present everywhere, even in
the least promising places of our world and our
lives. As you enjoy summer, may you be open to
that presence wherever the journey may lead. May
each day begin and end with Jacob’s amazement:
“Surely God is in this place!”–even if, like Jacob,
we don’t always know it.
Prayer: Open us to your presence, God, wherever
we are, whoever we are. Amen.
For many of us, the “always-on-the-go” treadmill of
daily activity can get us so focused on the next task
we must accomplish that we miss the beauty of
God’s handiwork all around us. We can overlook
the joy of a child’s smile and we do not even notice
the beauty of a sunset. What will you be up to this
month? Maybe you will go on vacation and see
new sights. Maybe you will be trying – with varying
degrees of success – to keep children and
grandchildren entertained. Whatever we do,
wherever we go, may we not get so caught up in
our doing that we miss the wonder that is life. May
we come to know that in each of our precious
moments of life, God is present all around us. And
may we be grateful.

Peace and love,