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Monday, July 17, 2017

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How many times have we said, "Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it"? Jacob's surprise recognition of God's presence is significant enough to precipitate a name change; what was once called Luz is now Bethel, which literally means "house of God."

Jacob's story prompts us to consider God's presence in those places where we do not immediately recognize such presence. Our own experiences of deus absconditus ("the hidden God") remind us that God often reveals Godself indirectly, in a seemingly concealed manner--through a dream as in Jacob's case, or even through weakness and suffering as in Jesus' death on a cross--often in places we least expect.

Imagine if the name of all places could be changed to Bethel: from the kitchen table to the courtroom; from the classroom to highway intersections; from the office to the hospital room. Surely the Lord is in these places.

Mysterious God, reveal yourself to us in places we least expect. Surprise us with your life-giving presence everywhere we go. Amen.

Shauna Hannan, '98
Associate Professor of Preaching, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif.

Genesis 28:10-19 (NRSV)

10 Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran.
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.
19 He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.