Today our blog series on the vision of River City continues with Carlos Ruiz, part of the RC3 staff team: I have been thinking lately about places. Places have always had a huge resonance in my walk with God and in my worship. I still remember the place where i was invited to open the Scriptures for the first time when i was 12 years old. I remember the color of the walls, the structure of the house, and the smell of the delicious fruit juice it was mixed for Advent Season. All the details, textures and contrasts that a place brings are echoes that have stayed with me until today. Every time i return to those places and see the textures, the dimensions and the smells new memories awaken to the point that sometimes i can even see more clearly how God was moving in me during those early days. but not only memories awaken, many times a whole emotional world that was inside of me and that i was completely unaware of becomes surprisingly evident to me. Places have that power to bring back memories and emotions to us because it is in places where we live our lives and where ultimately we encounter the revelation of God who gives us life.
The Hebrew Scriptures make an emphasis in how God revealed herself to people and how this people often times honored, blessed, inhabited, and remembered the places where the great revelation had occurred. Many of this people did that by worshipping God in that place where the revelation had taken place. It seems to me that by honoring the place of revelation they ended up honoring and worshipping the Revealer as well. For example, as Jacob was fleeing from his brother Esau, he got tired and slept under a rock and...when Jacob awoke from his sleep he thought, "surely the Lord is in this place , and i was not aware of it" (Genesis 28:16). Shortly after that, Jacob celebrates a ritual of worship by taking the stone where he had placed his head and set it up as a pillar and put oil on top of it. He ended renaming this place as Bethel which means "the place God indwells". Jacob became aware of the revelation and presence of God in that place and he immediately worships God. Jacob honors and carefully takes into account the place where that revelation occurred and where that glorious presence was felt.
As i reflect on this and read this story in the book of Genesis i cannot help to realize the season we are in as a community of people at River City. Although we are not Jacob and this story had many different details of course; this story still captures my imagination in different ways. We are a people that have felt something after witnessing what God has been doing in Humboldt Park for years. we have reflected and pondered now for ten years on what God is doing in this neighborhood and how we can join God in this work. The last years we have been presented with the opportunity to stay in Humboldt Park and set roots in this place. Now that this possibility is becoming more and more tangible as we see the temple that is being built out of a mattress store; i almost feel like joining Jacob and setting up an altar praying, worshipping God. I find myself imagining how this building and temple of worship that is being built now will become a place for many, and may be many generations to follow as well, that will witness the revelation of the living God in Humboldt Park whose presence has been here long long time ago, before we even became aware of it.