Scripture Focus: Ezekiel 48.35
“And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.”
Reflection: The Lord is There
By John Tillman
All the architectural details and the descriptions of artistic embellishments in the temple, lead to one final detail that would have excited Ezekiel’s exiled audience. “The name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.”
We might at first be confused. Ezekiel, after all, has been transported in a vision back to Israel to “a high mountain”. The city is Jerusalem, right? Why would God change the name of the city?
Names in the scripture are vitally important and God often changes someone’s or something’s name when significant happens. He adds to Abram and Sarai’s names, making them Abraham and Sarah indicating their closeness to his Spirit. He changes Jacob’s name to Israel, going from a negative of grasping for status to a positive of holding tight to God. Names tell a story. The name God gives this city is a truth that the exiles needed and a truth that we need today. Where God’s people are, God is there. Where God is worshiped, God is there.
God’s presence, in a theological sense, is a given. He’s omnipresent. Even if we wanted to flee from God’s presence we could not. But in a spiritual and psychological sense, we need reminders.
Some of those reminders can be physical. In a church building, the architecture of the space or the architecture of the liturgy can remind us. In a familiar spot—a favorite chair, the kitchen table, our seat on the bus, a bench in the park—familiarity and history can remind us. A physical activity or posture—kneeling, closing our eyes, raising our hands, dancing, singing, hiking, running, or stretching—can remind us.
We can even remind ourselves of God’s presence through specific mental exercises, such as the Prayer of Examen or Christian meditation practices.
Whether through physical or mental means, remind yourself regularly that God is with you. The temple Ezekiel describes was never built. Jesus, however, builds his temple in and through us. The City and Temple with the name “the Lord is there” is the church and wherever Christians are gathered, Jesus is among us.
Wherever you go, as a Christian, you take with you the spirit of the city of God. Practice remembering that “the Lord is there.” Walk like it. Talk like it. Treat people like the God who loves them is standing with you. Because he is.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
My eyes are upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me… — Psalm 101.6 – From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Ezekiel 48(Listen 6:15)
2 Timothy 3(Listen 2:21
Read more about Time Tested Devotion
Pray the Examen regularly and it will tutor you in practicing the presence of God.
Read more about The Practice of Meditation — Tea
The tea analogy is helpful to explain the contrast between Christian meditation and other meditative practices.