Do you ever dream that you can’t find your place? A friend tells of dreaming a version of this same dream night after night. In his dream, he is the official representative at an important gathering. But as he arrives the ceremonies are already in progress. He looks for his seat, which was reserved for him, but cannot find it. No one seems to know where it is and he searches in vain. Each time he has the dream, he can’t find his place. H looks desperately and always awakens unfulfilled.
Swiss psychologist Paul Tournier says, “The place we area all looking for is the Paradise we have lost. The whole of humanity suffers from what we might call the ‘Paradise Lost’ complex. What is this paradise? It is a place of security, a place of perfection, a place where the “ideal” community lives out its life in happiness. We all search for a place like that….all of us.”
But I wonder if Tournier is right. This longing we feel, is it really for paradise – for perfection? If it is, we’ll need to wait for the next life for that kind of place. But I believe that our longing for a place in this life is a longing for acceptance, and a longing for authentic community.
That kind of acceptance and community is a gift from God. Remember the Gospel story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well? She was a sad woman who had been married five times and who was now living with a sixth man. When Jesus asked her for a drink of water, she was shocked! Wasn’t he afraid of being contaminated by her? Then Jesus says, “Woman, you are troubled, I can tell. I think you are searching for acceptance and peace, but I don’t think you have found it. It is like drawing water from this well; you have to come back again and again because you can never get enough. But there is living water which wells up inside you. And you will never have to search for acceptance again, because you will carry it within you. And there’s nothing you have to do to get this living water except to accept it as a gift from God.”
Ultimately, we can find our lost sense of place only in God. God is the foundation of peace that enables us to build a life of hope. The church is called to embrace and proclaim God’s acceptance by being a community of acceptance. We at the Church take our calling as God’s agent of acceptance seriously. At the top of some of our Sunday worship bulletins, we state: “No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” I hope that you will take this as a personal invitation to you – join us- no matter where you are on your journey.
Do you remember that when Jacob awoke from his dream, he exclaimed, “Surely, the Lord is in this place and I did not know it!” I believe that the Lord is in this place – – among this warm and welcoming congregation. I am confident that you, too, will find it to be a place just right!
Peace, Joy, Hope and Love,