Lectionary Text for the twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost:
Psalm 119:97-104; Genesis 32:22-31; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8
Genesis 32:22-31: “The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24 Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ 27 So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ 28 Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’ 29 Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.”
Luke 18:1-8: “Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 2 He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” 4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.” ’ 6 And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? 8 I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost Comment: I read in an article that made the point that we as human beings search outer space hoping to find the farthest galaxies. We explore the oceans seeking their deepest levels, but we will not look inward to examine the depths or our souls nor the capacity of our hearts. We truly want to know God more deeply, but we fail to consider the obstacles that hinder a fuller relationship with God. Scripture often repeats the hindrances that bar our relationship with God as greed, selfishness, dishonesty, lack of remorse and self-deceit. Starting at Genesis 25:19 and forward you can identify these character traits demonstrated by Jacob. Now in Gen. 32, separated from those nearest and dearest to him, Jacob is “left alone.” He is alone where all distractions are removed and there is no place to hide.
I have often thought while reading this text that Jacob was wrestling with his personal demons listed above, in the presence of and with God. Even though he was scarred by the process, Jacob’s struggles end in the blessing of a new name.
Like Jacob and the persistent widow in the parable, pray this,
Holy Spirit be for me…
A sacred fire---sanctifying
A fire of compassion—warming
A fire of forgiveness—healing
A fire of purification—cleansing
A fire of creativity—inspiring
A fire of justice—summoning
A fire of love—rekindling
A fire of change—reshaping
A fire of passion—empowering
A fire of the Divine—illuminatin
O God, transform me, my family and my church…
Burn away all hardness of heart.
Break down the walls we have built.
Let your fire leap through our resistance,
over the walls of our hearts,
into a world yearning for transformation.
Burn into my hearts these words of Jesus,
“I have come to light a fire on the earth;
how I wish the blaze were ignited.”
(revised from Joyce Rupp’s,The Circle Of Life: The Heart's Journey Through The Seasons
, p 152,153)
Extraordinary Blessings for Ordinary Times,
© October 11, 2010
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