Originally published in the King’s Stanley Magazine.
It must have been quite a dream, vivid and impressive!
The ladder had seemed so real, yet the scale had been distorted. How else could it have reached up from earth to heaven? And the angels, how did he know they were angels?
They just were.
Jacob had been running away from his brother Esau who was out for revenge. Encouraged by his mother, Jacob had lied to his blind father, Isaac, to receive the blessing due to Esau as the elder son. Cheat and a liar as he was, he recognised that he was in a special place, saying, “This is the house of God, this is the gate of Heaven.”
Jacob’s story can be found in the first book of the Bible, and on one level it says something about how people have always set aside certain locations and buildings as places of worship. On another level it offers a challenge to a very human tendency to rule that certain groups, or people with certain tendencies and lifestyles, are deemed to be unworthy or unwelcome. Jacob was far from being an exemplary character, yet he was blessed by God who promised to be with him wherever he went.
In chapter four of John’s gospel there is an account of how Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well at noon, a time when she could be pretty sure of not meeting the people who would have ignored her. Jesus asks her for a drink. That surprises her. Then Jesus say something enigmatic about being able to give her “living water.”
There are various links between these two stories. One is that of a gift being offered to a seemingly undeserving character. Another is that of worship. Jacob recognises the place of worship. The Samaritan woman encounters Jesus, who is the person through whom worship is offered. He is also the one who offers a fresh start to doubtful characters, the one who, Christians believe, offers “living water” to those who worship in “spirit and truth.”
Sunday worship offers a welcome to all, a visit to the well, to the gate of heaven, into the presence of Jesus who offers that “water of life”, an “inner spring always welling up for eternal life.” Be assured of a warm welcome at the Village Hall 10.30 am on Sunday mornings.
With best wishes,
Robert Draycott (Rev)