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Our texts this week comes from Genesis 32 and Luke 18.
Genesis, Jacob wrestles with God through the night and in the morning he asks to be blessed. Jacob’s name is blessed and is transformed (changed) to ‘Israel’ meaning ‘one who has wrestled with man and God and has prevailed’. But, he also walks away with a limp.
In Luke, Jesus tells a parable about an unjust judge, who doesn’t have fear or reverence or awe or respect for God nor does he for humans. But, because of the tireless persistance of a widow he does the right thing in her case.
I was home this last week in Arizona and I simply posed the question to my sister (Amanda), ‘do you wrestle with God?’.
She said “All The Time”.
I said “you know, I wonder how often we wrestle with God about who we are, who we’re called to be, and what we are called to do”.
She said “that is what I usually wrestle with him about”.
Well, I decided when I was seven that I wanted to be a pastor.
My sister has changed from veterinarian to agricultural education teacher at the high school level to her degrees are in Business and Finance (specifically, pre-veterinarian science/agri-business and finance). [And] She’s working in that field, sort of but not completely, for a good company. She tried for about 15 years to get hired on by this company, ever since she gradutated high school. [And] She loves working for the company, but her department is not the healthiest work envirnoment. She’s been interviewing to get out of that department into another department, multiple interviews and sometimes with the same interviewers or committees set up with similar people that she has met in previous interviews. This last week when she interviewed, she told them “I am gonna keep interviewing until you just get tired of me and hire me”.
She reminded me of that widow, but she also reminded me of Jacob wrestling with God.
Jacob was transformed. Jacob was changed by his experience of wrestling with God.
Now, there is a comedian (Tommy Tiernan) who has a routine called Mass Around the World. He is Irish and the routine has some colorful language, but he talks about experience with a priest that looked perfect, flawless. [And] He said he wants his priest to look more like John the Baptist, wide-eyed, wild, crazy in the wilderness, scars, messed up face, looking like the decisions in his life has left consequences on his body.
Jacob had a limp. Jacob continued to have that limp. Not only was his name, his identity, changed in that wrestling with God but it left permament proof in his life.
I encourage that each one of us wrestle with God about who we are; who we’re called to be both professionally and in the community, and our vocations of being sons and daughters, husbands, wives, friends, loved ones, parents.
I encourage us all to wrestle with God, but I also encourage us to pray for justice. Be persisent in that prayer like the widow was, but not just be persisent in prayer for justice. I want us to actively seek justice, fairness, ourselves.
So my take-away for this week was:
(1) Wrestle with God, let it transform you;
(2) Pray for Justice; and
(3) Go Out and Seek Justice.
The scriptures were Genesis 32: 22-31 and Luke 18: 1-8.
The sermon was originally preached on 16 October 2016.