Lectionary Year A
August 1, 1999
(JFC) A. DESCRIPTION OF AUDIENCE
I will preach this sermon to a very small congregation in a very small town
miles south of the State Capital City. My two year service to them recently
ended so they could call a Designated Pastor with Redevelopment skills.
The Presbytery supports their redevelopment. Part of my strategy as their
part-time Interim was to help them recall and celebrate some of their
accomplishments in their past history. I plan to mention some of those
memories in Part III of the sermon.
(JFC) B. INTENDED GOALS FOR THE AUDIENCE
This passage can uplift the spirits and remind us that it is God who does so.
faces stressful situations with which we wrestle and allows us to face them
with God's presence even when we fail to recognize it.
(JFC) C. ADDRESS
"Life's a Wrestling Match"
People wrestle through every day. You know your wrestling all too well.
We usually want to leave our struggles at the door of the sanctuary when
we come here. However, God's Word promises to help us cope with even our
I. How We Wrestle = Like Jacob's Wrestling Match
Jacob wrestled long before that night at the Jabbok. He wrestled with his
twin brother, with his mother, with his twin brother, with his father, with
his twin brother, with his father-in-law, with his twin brother, with his
wives, with his twin brother again and again. Did I mention his skirmishes
with his twin brother? Jacob wrestled, even, with God. We, too, get into
Life is a veritable and a virtual wrestling match. We struggle and struggle.
II. Who Wrestles With Us But God
Could Jacob have begun that night wrestling with an unknown? Maybe.
Notice, the Scripture passage delays calling the name of Jacob's nocturnal
opponent until Jacob justifies naming the place Pinuel. Tradition pictures
Jacob wrestling with an angel. Rembrandt has a beautiful painting
portraying Jacob wrestling with a lovely angel. Genesis is studiously
vague in designating Jacob's adversary. Who is it? If we can expand this
concept, we might detect God's in our corner, ready to bless us, i.e. wash
us, refresh us, renew us, re-strengthen us, return us to the fray of battle
we call life.
Do we think we wrestle with our health, with our friends and family members,
with our supervisors and co-workers, with our neighbors and people in stores
where we shop and seek services, with decisions, with negotiations, with
transactions? We do. And, you know what, we wrestle with God, too. God
is in our wrestling matches even when we fail to notice. God lets us
struggle, work, try, hope, etc.
III. God Blesses Us, too
God blessed Jacob and God blesses us, as well. You can recite the blessings
God bestows on you and I can mine.
God blesses your congregation, too, of course. Count your blessings. God
covenanted with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not as individuals only, but also and
maybe even especially as generations of people and eventually as a nation of
people, Israel. God expanded the scope of the covenant in changing Jacob's
name to Israel = people of God.
Evidently, since we have a written record of Jacob's wrestling there at
the Jabbok, he did tell about it. We share our blessings by thanking God and
by telling and showing others that we believe it is God who blesses us so
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