Socially Distanced God: the struggle

Hands of God and Adam (With images) | Sistine chapel, Sistine ...

God,

I’m struggling with the socially distant God.

A God that is six feet, or more, away.

A God I can’t touch.

Jesus,

I am struggling with a masked God.

One who is hard to recognize from the crowd.

It is so hard not to see you smile.

Holy Spirit

I am so tired of the enclosed God.

Trapped with me and my house and my family and my work

Sometimes the breath of the pneuma gets stuck in my throat

Source, Word & Spirit

When we are the hands and feet of Jesus, I feel isolated from your love.

So I find myself seeking you; in the the sunsets and flowers,

In the crinkles of laughter around people’s eyes and the nods of hello

In the stillness of the moments, in the sweat of the medical teams, in the stories, all the evolving stories, of good in the world

Creator, Liberator, Comforter

Remind me of all the ways you are present.

Give me the gifts of creativity, liberty and comfort in ways I’d never ask for nor expect.

And when I feel alone, tell me that even Jesus felt alone.

Creator, Lover, Sustainer

When I am overwhelmed, please speak to me that my feelings are real and legitimate.

Help me to make space for the feelings–the loneliness, the fleeting happiness, the sadness, the anger, and the thirst for change.

Then teach me new ways to be your hands and feet I pray.

Amen.

image

 

More Pandemic Resources & Prayers

Seeds: 9-22 Narrative Lectionary Genesis 32: 22-30 Week 3

Genesis 32[9-13] 22-30Mark 14:32-36Psalm 24

More Info: https://katyandtheword.wordpress.com/2019/08/27/seeds-resource-page/

More Resources for this Week.

Bulletin

Concepts: 

After wrestling with God, Jacob won’t let him go; he clings to him, seeking God’s blessing (see image at https://suzannewoodsfisher.com/faith/jacobs-wrestling-match-genesis-3226/ and https://pastorross1.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/wrestling41.jpg

You cannot walk away from encountering God without being changed (our friend Rev. Elizabeth Vandegrift); after Jacob’s confession of who he is (heel-grabber), he has no more reported conflicts with others (husband Len Hedges-Goettl’s take). See *** below under exegesis.

Night is a vulnerable time/space https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship/lectionary-calendar/eighth-sunday-after-pentecost4 Also Brueggemann below* under exegesis

What it means to wrestle with God See**Children’s sermon link below 

Wrestling is a sign of intimacy; you can’t wrestle with someone you are far away from (Image of this saying at https://i.pinimg.com/736x/cb/b6/2c/cbb62c35b45738be1c8235302b1072d9–perfect-guy-wrestling.jpg

Images

https://www.creationswap.com/media/12018/wrestling-with-god

Sculptures by Nathan Rapoport at

https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ACYBGNQeGXiGSA-3pv_RZtVDudQrQtFB8w:1568163897181&q=Jacob+Wrestling+with+the+Angel,%22+Nathan+Rapoport&tbm=isch&source=univ&sxsrf=ACYBGNQeGXiGSA-3pv_RZtVDudQrQtFB8w:1568163897181&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjO1KngycfkAhUEtlkKHS14Cp0QsAR6BAgJEAE&biw=1821&bih=810#imgrc=haSJyS7LRSBmhM: This sculptor has done many versions of Jacob and the angel/God; would be interesting to look into why; see links from Wikipedia for more about him

Gaugin https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/4940/vision-sermon-jacob-wrestling-angel

Children’s sermon**

 http://worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com/2016/09/year-c-proper-24-29th-sunday-in.html

Liturgical resources

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship/lectionary-calendar/eighth-sunday-after-pentecost4

Opening Prayer       

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting.

O God, you continue to reveal yourself to us.

You continue to make and keep promises to us.

You continue to graciously give to us, even when we deserve nothing.

Draw us to yourself. Touch and change us. Amen

Call to Worship

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting. 

One: God, like Jacob, we wrestle. 

Many: Like Jacob, we confess who we are.

Like Jacob, we do not let you go.

Like Jacob, we seek your blessing. 

ALL: Hear and answer us, O Lord, we pray. Amen. 

RITE of CONFESSION

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting.

*Call to Confession                                                                                                        Sometimes we think that no one would love us if they knew all about us.                                       But God knows all about us and continues to love us.                                                                                 Let us confess our continuing need for God’ 

*Prayer of Confession 

O God, we have things we would like to keep private—if not secret.                                              We have done—and not done–things that keep us awake at night.                                                    We don’t always treat others as your children.                                                                                    We don’t always honor ourselves as made in your image.                                                      We don’t always trust your grace and love. Forgive us.                                                                             Remake us in your image.                                 (Silent Confession)

*Assurance of Pardon (Romans 8:28-29, New Living Bible) Pastor Len

Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Thanks be to God for the Good News:  In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

Hymns

BOW – The United Methodist Book of Worship
CLUW – Come, Let Us Worship (Korean)
MVPC – Mil Voces Para Celebrar (Spanish)
SOZ – Songs of Zion
TFWS – The Faith We Sing
UMH – The United Methodist Hymnal
URW – Upper Room Worshipbook
WSM  – Worship & Song, Music Edition
WSW  – Worship & Song, Worship Resources Edition
SoG  – Songs of Grace

 

Genesis 32:22–31 UMH MVPC CLUW TFWS SOZ URW WSM WSW SoG
Be Thou My Vision 451 240 180
Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown 386 148
Faith Is Patience in the Night 2211
God Be with You till We Meet Again (God Be With You) 672 347 37
God Be with You till We Meet Again (Randolph) 673
God of Many Names 105
How Can We Name a Love 111
I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath 60 123
O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go 480 255 322
Oh, I Know the Lord’s Laid His Hands on Me 2139
Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God 405 201 136
Source and Sovereign, Rock and Cloud 113
Sweet Hour of Prayer 496 248 330
The God of Abraham Praise 116 28
There Are Some Things I May Not Know 2147

Lutheran:

Blessed be the God of Israel   ELW 250
Onward, Christian soldiers   H82 562, UMH 575

Also

Fight the Good Fight (PCUSA blue #307)

Exegetical resources

***NL on Jacob having to name himself in a move that is both confession and a death leading to new life; http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?m=4377&post=1597

How Jacob was changed http://www.verityfellowship.org/blogarchive/2017/6/12/the-dependent-prayer-of-jacob-jacob-part-1

NL on the whole Jacob cycle (I don’t agree that the passage is about persistence; that’s as though it’s a version of let’s make a deal—see alternatives above) https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2555

Another resource covering the whole Jacob cycle. Contains images, references to other books/resources, discussion/further questions, etc. https://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20071015JJ.shtml

Buechner: https://www.frederickbuechner.com/blog/2016/10/10/weekly-sermon-illustration-jacobs-w

More compete Buechner on whole Jacob cycle http://day1.org/6297-the_magnificent_defeat

Interview of Brueggemann by Bill Moyer-video of part of interview; more in writing *https://billmoyers.com/content/god-wrestling/

Further resources: https://preachingandworship.org/search/Genesis%2032%3A22-30

#rejectedsermontitles #Jacob admits he’s a jerk

Mark 14:32-36

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ 33He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ 35And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36He said, ‘Abba,* Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’

Genesis 32:22-30
22 The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ 27So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ 28Then the man* said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,* for you have striven with God and with humans,* and have prevailed.’ 29Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. 30So Jacob called the place Peniel,* saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ 31The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.

Jacob is the ankle grabber, the loveable thief. The one who pulls himself up…by another’s bootstrap. Its Jacob, the man who got his inheritance by cheating his father and stealing his brother’s. This is Jacob, who despite that cheating, finds God. The man who, when he sees Jacob’s ladder says “I didn’t expect to see God here.”

Jacob sees God, and knows God, and wrestles with God. How this happens we don’t really know. One minute Jacob is traveling, the next he’s wrestling God.

And, Jacob is winning, when God asks Jacob’s name, and Jacob confesses. Confession is presenting your whole self, your good and bad to God. Its admitting who you are, naming yourself to God.

But the interesting thing about confession, is that you can’t confess yourself to God, without being changed by God. Its a Murphy’s Law kind of thing. God asks, Jacob’s name, and Jacob admits its cheater, not a name to be proud of. Jacob confesses himself, his name and then literally and figuratively breaks under the strain of it.

Then, it changes, God says “No, now your name is Israel: God prevails.” God prevails and Jacob is changed by his struggle with God.

What’s amazing is that this struggle happens many times in the Bible. In the time Jesus prays in the Garden it going on both with the disciples and Jesus himself.

Jesus struggles with God, asking if he could not do it. (Don’t ask me how, but Jesus is struggling with God).

The disciples too are struggling, struggling to stay awake while Jesus prays. They are struggling to be the friends and disciples that Jesus is calling them to be. Up all night, full of wine, the disciples struggle with God.

In the end, though, Jesus gives himself to full confession. Saying “your will be done.”

The gift of faith is just the beginning. Struggle and confession are a part of the practice of faith.

That is what we are doing when we confess ourselves to God. Claiming ourselves as children and belonging to God. We struggle with claiming who we are, confessing ourselves so that God’s will can be done, so we can be the people God envisions us to be.

In that way, God calls us into being, by our very names