July 30, 2018
July 29, 2018 | Jacob had tricked his father Isaac into giving him, the second born son, the birthright blessings that rightfully belonged to his older brother Esau. Esau is furious, and Jacob flees for his life. He settles down, marries, has children, tends his equally sneaky father-in-law’s sheep, all the time worrying about when this unresolved sibling feud will come to a head.
Eventually, Jacob’s conflicts with his father-in-law get to be too much and so he leaves with his wives and his family and stolen sheep, to return to the land of his birth. He knows this means he will have to face his brother.
This week we hear how Jacob alone, wrestles through the lonely hours of the night with a mysterious person who some have described as an angel, an agent of God, or maybe it was God directly, who grabbed ahold of Jacob and wouldn’t let him go. There are times when we wrestle through the night with problems that assail us, relationships that trouble us, situations we’re called on to influence through our own efforts, our own will, even if it hurts.
July 23, 2018
July 22, 2018 | I know one should never say that awful cliché, "What goes around, comes around.” Jacob had outfoxed his twin brother, Esau, cheating him out of his birthright. Then he convinced his visually impaired father, Isaac, into giving him the paternal blessing that had been meant for Esau. Not exactly a flattering portrayal of Jacob.
In this week’s story, the wily trickster meets his match. He has come to his mother's homeland and he has been welcomed by Laban, his uncle. When Laban asks him what his wages should be, Jacob asks for Rachel, Laban's younger daughter, in exchange for seven years of labor.
The seven years end, and Jacob is eager to claim his bride. Then, on the wedding night, the trickster is tricked. Laban gives Jacob his older daughter Leah instead of Rachel.
There is a sense of poetic justice that goes farther than saying the deceiver was deceived in the reading this week because the story does not end there. Though Jacob is a liar and a trickster, God graciously gives him the blessing God gave to Abraham and to Isaac. In addition, God promises to be with him and to bring him back to his homeland.
July 17, 2018
July 15, 2018 | This week we start a sermon series based on Jacob and Esau for the next three weeks. As we enjoy these summer days and time with family this series will focus on summer and family reunions. How families have traits and qualities, that give us a sense of being part of a bigger clan. As the church we are part of even a bigger clan, the Jewish/ Christian clan. As we read ancient stories about former members of our clan, we realize that they have good and bad traits just like us. And like us they work through experiences that combine struggles and blessings.
Our focus this week is on Jacob stealing the birthright given to Esau. Jacob has tricked him. How would this make you feel if someone had tricked you out of something that was rightfully yours?
July 16, 2018
July 8, 2018 | Jesus’ life has been a continuous flurry of activity as he moves from one event to the next. All are amazed at his miracles and the wisdom of his preaching. Jesus has selected his team of disciples and the ministry is making great headway. That is until the reading we hear this week from Mark’s gospel. Jesus has gone home to Nazareth where he is met with a combination of amazement, resentment and open hostility.
This was obviously not a social visit where Jesus came to see friends and family. He came as a teacher and a rabbi, with his disciples in tow. Those who heard him became critical of his wisdom and power.
So, Jesus packs up his campaign and for the first time he empowers the twelve disciples and sends them off to other lands to share the good news.
July 2, 2018
July 1, 2018 | Our Scripture passages this week are a reminder that God can use even the slightest thread of hope to do more than we can imagine. In our first reading from 2 Samuel, David despairs over the loss of a friend and the defeat of a nation and then rises to become the greatest of kings. In our Gospel passage from Mark, we see how words of simple faith –or perhaps desperation– transform lives. Our faith does not need to be refined, eloquent or shaped in the traditional wording of the creeds to be noticed. We can be rich or poor, have everything or nothing, be distinguished or destitute, still God hears every sigh, every deep and heartfelt longing as prayer, even if it comes only because we have nowhere else to turn.