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Genesis 27:1-4, 15-23 & 32:22-32
Our story – according to Genesis – begins in the dust, from which God shapes us and gives us life through breathing the Divine Spirit into us. We’re made in the image of God and also intimately connected to the earth and one another. We see that things quickly get complicated with Adam and Eve wanting to be in the place of God, their sons killing one another out of envy, and humanity being consumed with greed, pain, violence and focused on themselves. God starts again, a second kind of creation, choosing Abraham and Sa-rah to create a way where there was no way. This couple without children, is selected to be the holy parents of the people of God.
While remarkably faithful, they too have their own weaknesses. They doubt. They take matters into their own hands. They are prisoners to their own culture of slavery and racial supremacy. Their son Isaac marries and has twin boys: Esau and Jacob. Isaac and his wife each prefer a different son, and then two kids quickly compete with one another, with the younger, Jacob, a trickster, cheating his older, simpler brother out of his blessing and inheritance. Jacob throughout his life tries to get ahead, to turn things around to come out first when he feels like he’s last. It’s a family that could use a lot of family talk therapy!
We wrestle with their story today. Our first reading tells of how Jacob, with the help of Rebekah, fools his ailing and blind father, stealing the blessing intended for the first-born Esau.
Our second reading is years later. Jacob has had to flee empty-handed and start a new life abroad. He re-turns home, and is terrified of encountering Esau who logically wants revenge. Jacob, strong but without a back-bone sends all his possessions, wives and children ahead of him to soften the blow, to seek to appease Esau before he arrives. That night alone, Jacob prays to God asking for help. God comes, wrestles with Jacob and Jacob is changed forever. He lives now with a limp. And he has a new name and identity: Israel – the One who wrestles with God.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION & EXAMEN:
• What engaged you, enraged you, or surprised you in the text?
• The Bible invites us into a strange new world where there is great power in words that are spoken, symbolic actions and blessings. What do you find strange in this story of how God forms a people from broken people?
• Jacob faces God and seems to be God’s equal in power, wrestling the angel all night long to a draw. But he is crippled in the encounter, transformed forever, given a new name. When, how have you wrestled with God in a similar way seeking blessing, understanding, or power in your weakness?
• What invitation do you heard the Spirit of God speaking to you – or to us, as a church – to act, speak, be or change through this word of scripture?
Download the Text Study Sheet PDF we’ll use in our Bible Study Encounter @CAPCOakland HERE.