Place matters. Where you are adds meaning to a lot of how you experience life. I imagine many languages have expressions for “I remember where I was when I first found out…” There’s something about the places we find ourselves that stick with us.
I’ve lived in cities with nicknames like “The Sparkling City by the Sea,” “The Cleanest Little City in Texas,” “The Cowboy Capital of the World,” and “The City of Palms.” As grateful as I was for the life I had in those places, only one city do I call “Home.” It’s the place that connects me to every memory of the past and dream of the future I have all at once.
You have a place like that, I’m sure. You may have more than one. That is fortunate.
There are also places that draw up other feelings, more destitute and painful ones. Many people can’t visit hospitals or cemeteries for this reason. In my family, we have a place called the pole. It’s a concrete base to a power line my sister wrecked her car into. These are all real places that carry real emotions.
Apparently, it’s not just us. Place mattered to God, if you were wondering. God loved the gates of Zion “more than all the dwellings of Jacob” (Psalm 87:2). This was a place of redemption and adoption. As such, and because it was “the city God founded,” glorious things were spoken of this place (Psalm 87:3). Joy was there.
Of course, this is the same city Jesus later mourned for (Luke 19). Places can change like that. What we find in them may surprise us all this time later. That means a good place can become something less than good. A bad place can be renewed.
Once, I had the chance to set a communion table for a group of God’s people. We weren’t in any sanctuary. It looked like we would have communion outside. So, I set the table in the place where we were. The table was a park bench covered in graffiti. I hope you can envision and appreciate the bread and cup against such a backdrop.
Our place changed and we were able to go inside. In those moments, though, we saw something about that place outside. Anywhere we allow ourselves to become aware of God’s presence is a holy place. And God is all over the place!