In the most recent four weeks (this included), the Lectionary reveals “characteristics” of faith. From “The Rich man and Lazarus”, the concept that everything has been presented for us to learn. From “Mustard seed”, our behaviors are prescribed IF we truly believe. From “Naaman and his servant”, the “way” is clearly described. And from “Wrestling with angels”, persistence is key. In this week’s passage, we see persistence in Jacob’s continuing to keep the angel from leaving and in the widow’s continuing to come before the judge. And the letter to Timothy encourages persistence “whether the time is favorable or unfavorable.” What have you gleaned from these past four weeks?
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The same night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 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. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 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.” 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. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.
From sermon4kids.com: “Jesus said that we should always pray and not give up. Perhaps God just wants us to show that we are really serious about what we are asking of Him. ”
New this issue: Video presentation of scripture.
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection: “I will not let you go,” said Jacob to the night stranger, “unless you bless me.” What does it mean to struggle for a blessing—from others or from God? How does that struggle manifest itself in your life?
Practice: In what ways has your persistence toward a goal paid off? Be persistent in your praise as well as your petition to God. If you are so moved, post your comments to our website.
Brain Food: commentary and artwork “Wrestling” by Lynn Miller; poem “Jacob wrestles with the angel” by Malcolm Guite and several poems from a poetry contest whose topic was “Jacob wrestling with the angel”
Contemporary Parables (aka Movies): See kid song above for kid friendly video; “Jacob and the angel” presented by CBN; Chicken Run (2000); “It’s not the fences around the farm that keep us here; it’s the fences around your brains.” A fun show, not just for children.
Image: Jacob and Angel, depiction on a high cross in Kells (photo by Sheila1988 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82539936).
Create a prayer list of people, concerns, thanksgivings, etc., to keep at home to help in your prayer time. Keep notes, at home, for your eyes only, of things you notice about yourself that are changing as a result of your consistent prayer.
Today, Jesus uses a parable to teach about prayer. In it, an unjust judge grants his petitioner’s plea only because she will not leave him alone until he does. Jesus says that God will also grant the prayers of those who cry to God day and night. The point is not that God, like the judge, will only be responsive to those who nag. It is, as Luke says, to teach us the need to pray always and not lose heart.
The first reading describes Jacob’s tenacity in wrestling with the stranger in the dark. Jacob was not able to win the match because the stranger was God. Yet, Jacob’s persistence brings him his new identity as the forebear of God’s people. He is given a new name, Israel, which means “he who strives with God.”
In today’s reading from the second letter to Timothy, this early church leader is called to persevere in teaching and preaching the faith he has been given both by his family and in his study of the scriptures. This letter was written in a time when an aberrant form of Christianity was being proclaimed. Timothy is to stick with what he has learned from the scriptures and from Paul.
Our baptism has called us into a life characterized by the need never to give up our search for God. Faithfulness involves a giving of all that we are and all that we have. God asks us never to lose heart and to give all of our time, treasure, and talents to the ministry of God in this world.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.