Like most good sermons and services I left with more questions than when I had when I entered the sanctuary.
What makes a place holy? Is it our prayers and supplications?
What makes it a place that can transform sinners? Is it a formal dedication?
Do we need a place at all?
We moderns tend to keep God's place separate from our everyday lives. It becomes a place to visit on Sundays or holidays. Shouldn't every place be like the place Jacob named Bethel?
"How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."
Jacob found that place in a dream, but the place was made by God. The choir nailed down the answer to my question when they sang Brukner's "Locus Iste"
a "Gradual for the Dedication of a Church."
"Locus iste a Deo factus est,
"This place was made by God,
a inestimable holy place.
It is without blame."
There you have it. It is not a place made by man at all.
I did learn something else new while listening to that story from Genesis. I discovered the name of the Lord. It is right there in Genesis 28:11-19. Missed it? Try again,
11 He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12 And he dreamed that there was a ladder* set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And the Lord stood beside him* and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; 14 and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed* in you and in your offspring. 15 Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ 16 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.’
18 So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19He called that place Bethel;* but the name of the city was Luz at the first.
Give up? Maybe you never watched "Airplane."
God to Jacob, "Don't call me Shirley."