Readings for 7th Sunday after Pentecost, 7/31/11:
Genesis 32:22-31, Psalm 17:1-7, 15, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:13-21
- This is just a fantastic passage. We all wrestle with God, but there are lots of ways to go about it. Jacob's approach is great - Jacob wrestles, holds his own, and demands a blessing. OK, so it is God's messenger - but good enough. How do you wrestle with God?
- What are your names? What do they mean? Who named you?
- Are you willing and able to ask God to bless you? Demand it even?
- "I have seen God face to face." Have you? When? Where? How?
- This psalm fits well with our passage from Genesis, because the psalmist is bold and demanding. The psalmist declares himself to be free from deceit, able to withstand testing, feet not slipping from God's path.
- Sometimes we need to be bold with God - not for God's sake, but for our sake. Fear of God's justice has its place, but confidence in our status as God's beloved children with whom God seeks relationship also has its place.
- Read the in-between verse too. For once, they are not totally, just partially, about God smiting enemies. They do also include the phrase "apple of the eye" - did you know that was from the Bible?
- This is an odd little snippet of scripture. What is here? Paul's passion that his people, the Israelites, would hear God's message. He has "great sorrow and unceasing anguish" for them as he worries about their salvation. Who do you worry about? Whose walk with God are you anguished over, hoping for them that they find the hope you have found?
- Did you know that the feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels?
- Food holds such a critical place in the scriptures. Jesus talks about being spiritually fed lots of times. But he doesn't overlook the importance of alleviating literal hunger!
- Some look at this as a literal miracle. Others read this passage as a miracle of sharing and abundance in a more figurative sense. I say: either way, it is a miracle indeed. People were hungry, then were fed. People were enabled to stay and hear Jesus preach.
- Abundance - there was more than enough to go around. This is a great statement for today - we live in a world of abundance, but perceive ourselves to be in a world of scarcity. Jesus tries to show us our abundance. Can you see it? Live it?