Two quick notes to begin with:
1. Funeral services for Tom Roe will be on Saturday, August 2, at 11:00 AM at Grey Eagle UMC with visitation starting at 9:00 AM.
2. Worship services will be reversed for the next four Sundays: Peace United Church at 9:00 AM and Grey Eagle UMC at 10:30 AM.
Our readings for this coming Sunday are:
Genesis 32:22-31 – [For the short version, skip to the next paragraph.] The lectionary skips a huge chunk of Jacob’s story between last week’s reading and this week’s. Last week we read that Jacob marries his two cousins, Leah and Rachel. Jacob loves Rachel more than he loves Leah but it is Leah who gets pregnant. What is implied is that Jacob is keeping his husbandly duties to both wives. Leah first has Reuben, then Simeon, then Levi and finally Judah. (Add up the time: three and a half to four year without Rachel becoming pregnant.) Rachel gets upset and gives Jacob her handmaiden Bilhah with whom they have two sons Dan and Naphtali. Leah then gives Jacob her handmaiden Zilpah who bears the sons Gad and Asher. (We are up to eight boys by three women. Is your head spinning?) After a bargain with Rachel for some mandrakes (an aphrodisiac and fertility drug) Leah becomes pregnant a fifth and sixth time and bears Issachar and Zebulun. (She also becomes pregnant a seventh time and bears the one and only girl mentioned in this family, Dinah.) Finally, God remembers Rachel and she becomes pregnant with Joseph (of the amazing Technicolor coat). Much later, Rachel will bear the twelfth son Benjamin. In the mean time, Jacob becomes rich by stealing the weakest sheep and goats from Laban (his uncle and father-in-law) and breeding them into strong and healthy flocks. When Laban finds out, he gets angry and Jacob, with his two wives, two concubines, 11 sons, one daughter, many servants and, by now huge flocks, must flee. When Laban catches up to them they come to a peaceful agreement but Jacob must still deal with his twin brother, Esau, because that is where he headed.
Just prior to our reading Jacob sends a message to Esau and Esau, with 400 men, decides to meet Jacob in the wilderness. Jacob, being afraid of him, divides his extended family and flock into two units sending them in different direction. He also sends a large number of flock to Esau to try to appease him. In our reading for Sunday, Jacob sends his wives and children ahead of him across the Jordan. While alone, a man wrestles with him through the night. When they wrestle to a draw the man puts out Jacob’s hip joint. The man demands that Jacob let him go before daybreak but Jacob demands a blessing. The man blesses him by changing his name to “Israel” which means “strives with God”. Jacob wants to know the stranger’s name but does not learn it. When the man leaves, Jacob names the place “The face of God” or Peniel. Who or what was Jacob wrestling with? A man? An angel? God? His own fears? What have you wrestled with? [Note: with the birth of Benjamin the twelve sons will be the Twelve Tribes of Israel.]
Psalm 17:1-7, 15 – The psalmist asks God to listen to his pleas and to protect him from his enemies.
OR Isaiah 55:1-5 – God call all people to come to the waters and drink. Come to the table and feast. Price of admission: Nothing, nada, zilch. Just come, listen and learn.
Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21 – Verses 8 and 9 are the standard description of God and you may want to memorize it. Verses 14-20 elaborates on this understanding.
Romans 9:1-5 – After stating that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ (8:39) Paul states that he is saddened by the thought that the Jewish people (for the most part) and authorities did not accept what God did for them in Jesus Christ. The adoption into God’s family (8:14) belonged to the Israelites but is now extended to all humanity.
Matthew 14:13-21 – Following Jesus’ teachings using parables he travels to Nazareth where he is rejected and he learns of the death of John the Baptist. That news prompts Jesus to retreat to a quiet place but the crowd will not leave him alone. With compassion, Jesus heals the sick among them. Late in the evening, the disciples want Jesus to send everyone home for dinner. Jesus tells them, “You give them something to eat.” They object saying they only have five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus asks everyone to sit down on the grass, he takes the bread (and fish), blesses it, breaks it, and then gives it. (This is communion: take, bless, break, and give although I generally break the bread while blessing it.) Matthew tells us that all ate and were full and there were 5,000 men with women and children with them. (15,000 people?) When have we been able to do so much with so little?
May the Lord fill you with love and kindness and may you serve the Lord by serving the people.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor