Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”Genesis 32:26-28
The best I can say about Sunday morning, and Rebekah’s opportunity to preach at Hudson, is “Ultimately it’s about being there.”
Simply put, Rebekah in person is always worth the drive to wherever it is she happens to be. As always it is the joy, the authenticity, the enthusiasm, the spontaneous laughter from the congregation, the deep interface with God’s word, the sense not only that the Spirit is at work but that anything is possible.
Rebekah’s message was based on one of my favorite Bible stories, the one where Jacob wrestles with God. But the wrestling – the struggle between Jacob and God… Jacob and himself… Jacob and life – only makes sense when we understand the context, and the nature of the rock and the hard place this great hero of the faith had wedged himself into.
Jacob was running away from his past, his uncle Laban and the consequences of his behavior; at the same time the Bible says he was “in great fear and distress” of his brother Esau, and what was going to confront him in the future if he “crossed the ford of the Jabbok.”
In a sense, thinking about it, Jacob’s struggle with God was necessary to get him unstuck. It’s true for any one of us. Jacob was never going to be truly free until he moved forward into the promise of the future. God was less concerned with the baggage Jacob brought with him and more interested in what becomes possible when we live as God’s blessed children.
At its heart Rebekah’s message was simple and straightforward: “Be a people who wrestle with God.” It’s one thing to stand off at a distance, to sing hymns, and to worship. But God is inviting us into a more personal struggle, where we take the relationship with our Creator to another level and we literally hold on, sometimes pulling and sometimes pushing, determined that we are never going to let go.
This is why Jacob is such an icon of the faith. Not that he did everything right, or that he was a poster-child for following God’s law, but that he held on to God and would not let go. O love that will not let me go.
Anyway, good stuff. Good message, good church, good vibes from Rebekah’s sermon. You can view it on the video link if you’re interested in how Rebekah communicates.
Peace, love, hope, promise, and “Good Wrestling” – DEREK