a Rare place of peace and sanity in a Random fast paced world.
Really hope this holds true.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Day 30: Dreamers and Workers
Genesis 31,32 & Matthew 20:1-16
Sometimes we make delineations between Dreamers and Workers. Dreamers, we tend to think, are those who waste their time waiting for things to come to them. Workers, on the other hand, are seen as salt of the earth type people. In the scriptures for today we get a different take on dreamers and workers.
God tells Jacob that the times has come to return to the land of his father Isaac. In a dream, God shows Jacob that all he has amassed has been because of God’s blessing. It is now time to take that blessing and return home. Jacob tells his wives of this revelation and they agree to go with Jacob stating that there is nothing left for them in their father’s house.
Rachel gathers up her things to leave and takes some extra souvenirs, her father’s household gods. These were totems of gods said to be a blessing to the household. They were often used in divination and were important to the inheritance system. Perhaps Rachel wanted to assure her family of these blessings, or keep her father from going to the gods to find out where they were heading.
Laban learns of their sneaking away and catches up to the group seven days later (again with the seven!) God speaks to Laban in a dream telling him to speak neither good nor bad to Jacob when he confronts him. Laban tells Jacob of his conversation with God. He also asks where his household gods have gone. Jacob, not knowing Rachel has stolen them, says he will put to death anyone found with the gods. After a thorough search, everywhere except Rachel’s saddlebags, the gods are not found. Jacob tells Laban that twenty years of servitude is more than enough.
The two men make a peace between them and set up a pillar of stones. Neither will pass with the intention of harming the other, as God is their witness. Laban lets Jacob keep the flocks, women and children. Jacob agrees to not harm them and to take no other wives.
The last time Jacob had seen his brother Esau, some twenty years ago, Esau had been ready to murder Jacob. With this thought in mind, Jacob sends word to his brother that he is coming. Jacob’s messenger returns saying Esau is coming to meet Jacob, with a delegation of 400 men. Jacob fears a massacre.
Jacob divides his group in two camps in hopes of saving at least half of what he has. Jacob prays to God for help. He recites again the promises God made. This is an example of praying scripture. While God’s promise has not yet been written down, it has been spoken. Jacob is reminding himself of God’s word. Something we all should do especially in times of trial.
He culls his herds and sends out hundreds of goats, sheep, camels, cows, and donkeys. Jacob has them keep space between them, hoping that five separate herds as gifts might soften the blow of his return.
Then Jacob does the unthinkable. He sends his whole family across the Euphrates River and goes back to the other side. He waits there overnight by himself. Jacob wrestles with a man there all night long. He refuses to let go until the man gives him a blessing. The man changes Jacobs name from Jacob to Israel meaning one who struggles with God and overcame.
Was it a literal wrestling match? Or was that a metaphor for Jacob’s dark night of the soul? Given what we have seen of Jacob’s character it is quite possible he was considering running away and saving his own skin. Historically this has been Jacob’s MO. But here, he battles with God and overcomes his fears. He moves on remembering God’s promise.
Have you ever met someone who felt they had “special status” in the church? You know who I mean, right? Those that trace their heritage back four or more generations, or that claim their family pew has been occupied longer than any other? Have you ever been that person yourself?
This parable is about God’s grace. God has given us all grace through Jesus Christ. It is the SAME grace regardless of when we experienced it for the first time.
The Pharisees and Sadducees claimed a special place in God’s kingdom. Some claimed it due to lineage, others due to their excellent rule following. They were upset when Jesus was offering common riffraff the same or equal status in the kingdom of God. It was viewed as unfair at the least. Jesus points out here that God never gives less than is promised and God’s generosity to others is not to be called into question.
My name is Cardelia Howell-Diamond and I pastor a congregation in Alabama. I'm a clergymama, with a clergymama! I have three lovely littles and an amazing clergyman husband. I love life in the church, even when I don't! I knit, crochet, read, write and sew, though none of these as often as I'd like.