The earliest followers of God, YHWH as the ancient Israelites knew him, obeyed God as sovereign. Laws mattered to them, and the highest law was that there was only one true God. They were different than other peoples and tribes who believed in many Gods depending on the place, need, or season. Yet, God's people continued to be very aware of and concerned with location. In addition to the commands of God, they believed that some places were more important than others. This plays out in that powerful conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4. She believed in God, came to believe Jesus was a prophet, but wanted to know if God could still be worshipped in her home country once the Messiah came. This was important to her.
Of course, Jesus responded that true believers worship not in place but in Spirit and Truth. I believe that. We can experience God everywhere, and should be ready for divine appearances and moments to happen anywhere. Yet, there is something powerful about some places, isn't there?
I was reminded how true that is for me this week at Annual Conference in Savannah. I have vivid memories of milestones happening there from middle school, through high school, and then into adulthood. It was in the Johnny Mercer Theater that I first helped out at Annual Conference in the summer I would start seminary. On that same stage in June 2006 I knelt down to be ordained by Bishop Watson and have the stole, a symbol of ordained ministry in the church, placed on my shoulders by my grandfather, Carlton. My thoughts returned to that night a few times this week with joy. God is sovereign everywhere, but there is something special about that place for me.
I witnessed a similarly special moment from the second row on Monday night, as our own Ben Godsen was ordained an Elder in the UMC in the very same spot. With Katie by his side, and family and friends in the congregation, he took on the mantle of serving and leading God's people. I snapped a photo of it as it happened. Savannah takes on even deeper meaning, as Ben and Katie and Olivia Kate will move there next week, as he takes his first appointment after being an associate in Macon.
God's power extends beyond this valley or that mountain. Our God created the heavens and the earth. There is no other. For all of the special places that carry meaning in my life and yours, there is great comfort in knowing that the same God is present there and anywhere our journeys take us.
Grace and Peace, Scott