22 That same night Jacob got up, took his two wives, his two concubines, and his eleven children, and crossed the Jabbok River. 23 After he had sent them across, he also sent across all that he owned, 24 but he stayed behind, alone.
Then a man came and wrestled with him until just before daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he was not winning the struggle, he hit Jacob on the hip, and it was thrown out of joint. 26 The man said, “Let me go; daylight is coming.”
“I won’t, unless you bless me,” Jacob answered.
27 “What is your name?” the man asked.
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have struggled with God and with men, and you have won; so your name will be Israel.”
29 Jacob said, “Now tell me your name.”
But he answered, “Why do you want to know my name?” Then he blessed Jacob.
30 Jacob said, “I have seen God face-to-face, and I am still alive”; so he named the place Peniel. 31 The sun rose as Jacob was leaving Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.
Wrestling, still grappling, trying to gain the upper hand.
Searching, seeking, longing, to be.
Still yearning for that blessing, not the stolen one, but God’s blessing on me and my life.
And now you come, I am marked, forever, by our struggle; from now on I am changed.
You call me by a new name, a new purpose a new me.
I have met God, we have struggled, I am renewed and I am alive.
Struggling, I wrestle with you Lord.
I search and I seek, I long for you to touch me, to change me to make me new, in you.
Bless me Lord I pray. Bless each one of us. Meet us in our struggle, touch us, renew us and may we know we are alive in you.
This is such a beautiful hymn. It means so much to me of being able to trace God’s rainbow through the rain and the God whose love never lets us go, whatever the struggle. And this is a beautiful rendition of it:
In Richard III, Shakespeare famously has him saying “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse”, he is willing to give up everything he has to get a horse after losing his own. In this weeks gospel readings we see what people are willing to sacrifice for various treasures, but actually the question is, ‘What are you willing to give for the Kingdom?’.
The one thing I remember distinctly from my ‘O’ Levels is from the Scripture classes and that is
the kingdom of God is the rule of God in the hearts and lives of his people
Thank you to Mr Gilmore for that nugget that has stayed with me!
God’s kingdom is not a place, however wonderful that might seem. It is God living in us, breathing through us, working in us. This collection of parables or analogies show both what that can do and it’s value.
A mustard seed
Such a tiny thing, a small beginning, hard for the eye to see, but what it can become when planted and nurtured.
Then it becomes strong and tall, a place where others can find safety, refuge and rest.
Lord, take my faith, however small and fragile it fells, grow it strong and robust I pray that others may find refuge and strength in it and in your presence.
Nothing by itself.
Only working when activated, mixed with ingredients that make it grow.
Only becoming something of use when combined with others.
And then – what a difference it makes. For those other elements become something so much more too.
Lord, my faith is nothing by itself. It needs other ingredients, other people, the right things to feed it.
Then how it grows.
Lord, may I share, allow others to feed me as I feed them that together we can grow, in faith, in love, in knowledge of you.
That as we do your kingdom will grow in and through us,
Your Kingdom, your presence, is a treasure, valuable beyond any way we can measure.
Once discovered, it is worthy of all that I have, demands my everything.
For I will gain far more than anything I have without you.
Lord, I offer you my all, everything I have, all that I am, everything I can be
because all of that is only worth anything with you
and with you what I need becomes a different question.
A Great Pearl
I’ve been looking, searching, for the perfect thing.
There have been some false starts, some things I have mistaken, but now I have found, the finest thing there is, the thing that really completes my world.
Lord, that is you. Forgive me the false idols I have chased after, the things I thought were the answer.
But now I see and know you.
You are what I need and I surrender the worthless things for The One I really need.
A net of fish
What a good catch, the nets are full, straining under the weight of what we have.
Until, we stop and look carefully.
All we have here, is not what we need, what we thought we had.
Amongst the food, there is worthless stuff, the flotsam and jetsam of life caught up with the good.
We need to sort it out, to discard what is no good, to be able to appreciate the valuable.
Help me Lord, to sort out what I need and what I do not, on this journey with you.
Help me to be clear about what will help and what will not.
I lay the net of my life before you and invite you to sort through it that I may be stronger and useful for you.
31 Jesus told them another parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man takes a mustard seed and sows it in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up, it is the biggest of all plants. It becomes a tree, so that birds come and make their nests in its branches.”
The Parable of the Yeast
33 Jesus told them still another parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A woman takes some yeast and mixes it with a bushel of flour until the whole batch of dough rises.”
The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
44 “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man happens to find a treasure hidden in a field. He covers it up again, and is so happy that he goes and sells everything he has, and then goes back and buys that field.
The Parable of the Pearl
45 “Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man is looking for fine pearls, 46 and when he finds one that is unusually fine, he goes and sells everything he has, and buys that pearl.
The Parable of the Net
47 “Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. Some fishermen throw their net out in the lake and catch all kinds of fish. 48 When the net is full, they pull it to shore and sit down to divide the fish: the good ones go into the buckets, the worthless ones are thrown away. 49 It will be like this at the end of the age: the angels will go out and gather up the evil people from among the good 50 and will throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will cry and gnash their teeth.
New Truths and Old
51 “Do you understand these things?” Jesus asked them.
“Yes,” they answered.
52 So he replied, “This means, then, that every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of heaven is like a homeowner who takes new and old things out of his storage room.”
10 Jacob left Beersheba and started toward Haran. 11 At sunset he came to a holy place and camped there. He lay down to sleep, resting his head on a stone. 12 He dreamed that he saw a stairway reaching from earth to heaven, with angels going up and coming down on it. 13 And there was the Lord standing beside him. “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham and Isaac,” he said. “I will give to you and to your descendants this land on which you are lying. 14 They will be as numerous as the specks of dust on the earth. They will extend their territory in all directions, and through you and your descendants I will bless all the nations.[c]15 Remember, I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done all that I have promised you.”
16 Jacob woke up and said, “The Lord is here! He is in this place, and I didn’t know it!” 17 He was afraid and said, “What a terrifying place this is! It must be the house of God; it must be the gate that opens into heaven.”
18 Jacob got up early next morning, took the stone that was under his head, and set it up as a memorial. Then he poured olive oil on it to dedicate it to God. 19 He named the place Bethel.
This place, not a place of my choosing, a part of a journey.
A place on the way to find my future, my inheritance, a blessing, not the one I stole.
Running from the anger and retribution I deserve.
Here I rest my head, enough for today.
And there is God, standing beside me, promising his blessing, this place, an abundant future and his protection.
I thought this was just a place, barren, lonely, just where I was
but now I discover that God is here, this is God’s place, a holy place.
You will be my God and I will worship you.
I place the foundations of my life here in you.
Bless me Lord, Bless us. In this place, here.
Where maybe I didn’t expect to find you, in this place of running and resting, in the wilderness, the barren place that turns out to be a holy place.
May this be a place of beginning again of true inheritance, of discovering you, of worship, of foundation.
I offer it to you and pray that we may dwell here together.