Over the last 12 months I’ve been reading about the significance of place in scripture. It was a key theme of the Bible that I had largely over looked!
In the beginning, we read that God creates his people and gives them a place. They are displaced through sin but promised they will have their own place in the future. In fact much of the Old Testament is the journey of promise to place as pilgrims through Genesis, as slaves in Exodus and as exiles in the prophets.
John’s gospel begins with the Word of God choosing to dwell with humanity. Literally pitch his tent with people. Jesus lives in Nazareth and wanders in a region smaller than Canterbury. The first church begins with a community of faith described in Acts 2 and then spreads to locally placed communities across the known world. Revelation ends with the new heaven and the new earth. Or more literally the re-newed earth as God brings heaven to earth and God again dwells with his people here like in the Garden of Eden.
This very strong biblical narrative highlights the significance of place in mission and our lives. Books that have helped revolutionist my perspective include:
Where Mortals Dwell: A Christian View of Place for Today by Craig Bartholomew
The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting faith in a mobile culture by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
Lovers of Place by Francis Kline
The Land is Mine by Norman Habel
The Land: Place as gift, Promise and Challenge in Biblical faith by Walter Brueggemann.