All Souls in Kenya | Trip Update
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Dear Friends,

People of faith have wrestled for millennia with whether their god(s) are stuck in one place.

One of the profound aspects of Abraham's journey from Ur was that God became understood as omni-present. Part of Abraham & Sarai's uncertainty in leaving Ur was that their whole concept of the Divine was place-based. If they left Ur, would God be with them? And He was. He was with them in Haran. He was with them in Shechem. He was with them in Beth-El. He was with even with them in Egypt.

When Jacob left the house of Laban with Leah and Rachel, Rachel stole the household gods from Laban, her father. This may have been understood as taking some of Laban's riches, but it may also have been Rachel wresting with anxiety. Would the gods be with her if she left her home? She may have understood (in her mixture of mono-theism and Canaanite paganism) that the gods (the physical idols) needed to be present with her for the Divine to be present with her family.

And then, there is Moses' & the Israelites' journey from Egypt through the desert for 40 years, and eventually to the Promised Land. God finally gave His people a place for Him to reside: in the tabernacle (and ultimately, the temple), and in the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day, as they traveled. Is it possible that God knew that His people needed this to understand Him?

Once His people were in Exile, part of the devastation of the departure from Jerusalem was that God's people no longer perceived themselves to be in His presence. They had been exiled from God, because the temple was destroyed (reminiscent of the departure from the Garden). God's people no longer walked with Him in the cool of the evening.

And then: Jesus. Emmanuel: God with us. How could it possibly be?

And then: Pentecost. His Holy Spirit to reside inside and among us? Is it possible that this is Who He has always been, and we only began to understand?

Some day: we join Him. We reside with Him. We abide with Him. We are in His presence. There is no longer a distinction between places where God is and isn't. It seems that we may no longer need churches, even, because the House of God will be all in all. Eternal life is worship. Eternal life is eternal presence.

And yet, today, we embrace the omni-presence, but we wrestle with it, don't we? We "come into God's presence" in worship. Weren't we already there? Isn't He always here? Yes. And yet, we're not sure, it seems. So, we need places. We need buildings. We need to gather with God's people.

Part of this trip, for me, is searching for God's presence. Actually, it's about looking hard for where God already is, and joining him there. We began on Thursday with touring churches in Vienna: looking for God's people at worship.

On the one hand, God is with us. We know this deeply, in our hearts. And yet, God is also especially with us in our places of worship.

Thank you for journeying with us. More tomorrow on our visits with those working with refugees in Austria. Thank you for your prayers as we travel. All day Saturday, we will be on a plane from Vienna to Nairobi.

jennifer merck
for the All Souls Kenya Team

Copyright © 2017 All Souls Kenya Trip 2017, All rights reserved.

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