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Reform Magazine | May 15, 2021

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Chapter & verse: Genesis 28:16

Chapter & verse: Genesis 28:16

Barnabas Shin reflects on Jacob’s transformative dream

One of the students from our congregation recently interviewed me for her course. It was about the impact of the pandemic for the ministries of the church, and the last question was: ‘Have there been any positive experiences since the changes within church life?’

The first thing on my mind was the joint pastorate virtual service that initiated interaction between our three churches. We had a lot of contributions from the congregations with their singing of hymns, sharing stories, poems and Bible readings, including the Zoom meetings that enabled us to have a joint pastorate Lent group for the first time.

However, the most remarkable thing that I found was that we sought, and experienced, the very presence of God, even despite the isolated suffering in our ordinary places, and not being in the sanctuary of our church building.

‘Surely the Lord is in this place.’

‘This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’

Jacob ran away from his brother. That left him broken and separated from the family, alone in the wilderness, taking one of the stones as his pillow to sleep on. While Jacob was in agony, he had a dream – a dream with the message of God. It was about the promise of God’s presence for his personal life and, at the same time, the assurance of the great mission of God – ‘all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring’.

It was just a dream among many dreams. We can assume that the message would not have been new to him, for he had probably heard the same from Isaac, possibly even from Abraham too. He was not at a sacred place, nor at a devoted time for worship…

Barnabas Shin is Minister of Billericay, Brentwood and Ingatestone United Reformed Churches

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This is an extract from an article published in the May 2021 edition of Reform

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