Thursday's Thought for Sunday's Service 

August 3, 2017

My example:  I would suggest that faithful participation in ministry does bring and bestow greater confidence and boldness to an individual; however, it seems ancillary to a greater idea.  Beyond any blessing I might receive from determination and persistence to overcome, this passage also seems to suggest that following God’s call is for the sake of the greater faith community.  It isn’t so much about how I might be blessed or any name that I can make for myself, but more about how the church is perceived and understood by the wider world.

Our example: Members of this congregation might see how this scriptural passage speaks to the 60th anniversary of ministry at our present location.  Much like Jacob guiding his family across the ford of a stream in ancient days, our church was led to physically move about ½ a mile from the other side of Grand Ave – which by comparison, doesn’t feel that long ago.  Many of the individuals present that day, (August 4th, 1957) gathered to witness breaking ground with the first shovelful of dirt in celebration of a greater idea.  Although their names are still remembered by some, what seems most important is the ongoing mission of the church, represented by many who have grappled and persisted in ministry. They too, much like Jacob, ultimately came to learn how to demand, and receive a blessing from God.

So, we continue to wrestle with contemporary issues, contesting with family, friends, and neighbors over a variety of problems, discovering and developing courage as we encounter each other in social ways, and God in spiritual ways.  In this, we might not only perceive ourselves as individuals who eventually become bareheaded, bespectacled, or both, but that we also benefit by and are blessed because of boldness.  As we cope and contend with the strain of service and stewardship, the Church, scarred by sacrifice, is spared, and saved, renewed, and restored from age to age through God’s generosity and grace.

 

Rev. Richard Wagner

Dear Friends,

This week’s Thursday’s Thought for Sunday’s Service is based upon Genesis 32:22-31:

“That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.”                            (Genesis 32:22–31, NIV)

The older I become, the longer it takes to get going in the morning.  Never-the-less, the daily, persistent alarm goes off, starkly signaling a new round of struggle.

“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.”

This morning, I felt my bones creaking as I made my way to the kitchen to start the day with a glass of water.  Once again, I began to wrestle with issues related to my ministerial calling.

“‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’” But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’

After reading of Jacob’s stubbornness in preparation for today’s thought, I sensed an internal desire for a similar blessing, deliberately holding onto the feeling that he might have had, at least for a moment, before releasing my mind to the day’s schedule.  “No matter how old, how scarred and bruised I’ve become,” I said to myself, “I am determined to demand my due.”

“The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered. Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.’”

Ah. To overcome.