Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21
Never think or believe that there are persons whose lives are totally empty or void of any and all challenges and or serious issues and concerns. There may be long stretches’ of time even years when and it might be true, some families or individuals appear to be living the absolutely splendent life. And I am not attempting to throw dirt on or rain on persons whose lives indeed are wonderful, but from time to time at some juncture challenge and or chaos will visit.
For some of us our issues, concerns and challenges upfront and easily known, for others they lie just beneath the surface, so one is able to put-on and present a picture of life lived perfect. Then there are those who have pushed down, covered over, and buried their concerns and issues to the point, they’ve convinced themselves and many others that they have absolute no issues or concerns whatsoever.
The apostle Paul soke of something that concerned and deeply troubled him saying; “Therefore in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul concludes this pericope of Scripture proudly stating and affirming; “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about y weaknesses, so that Christ Jesus’ power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:6-9)
Engaging in and with challenges strengthens us, how we respond to and handle great difficulties and challenges helps to shape and produce the type of character we develop.
Sometimes for some of us we often don’t know who we are, or exactly what kind of person we really are, until we’ve faced something on a deep personal level that challenges, and pulls from us our best, and we know we endeavored and endured to accomplish taking no short cuts, nor exercising actions that affirm a lack of proper character in pursuit of our goals and accomplishments.
When we wrestle with something that calls forth and claims our best in order for there to be both completion and success we rightly have a sense of affirmed accomplishment, coupled with knowing you did not have to compromise ones character or lower ones standards for your particular accomplishment. In the Genesis text of today we read of Jacob being by himself, Jacob whose name in Hebrew is translated to mean “trickster, second born paternal twin of Esau, his older brother, holding and grasping his heel at birth(Hold-on, I’m coming, I’m in this also), an etymology understanding of Jaco’s name says his nature is that of one circumvents, to follow, to supplant, all these things he did as he tricked and stole his older brother’s birthright.
Fled the homicidal wrath of Esau his brother, and is now returning to face whatever may be the consequences for that action. He wants to be alone, in his thoughts, this possible last night before standing before his brother. Yes, we have to face the world, but there ae times we must face ourselves, as question and ponder our decisions, our thoughts, and our actions. What are we doing with this life God has gifted and given us?
So whatever the thoughts Jacob was wrestling with that faithful night, we read of his as wrestling with a messenger of God. Jacob was not an ideal brother, nor son to his father Isaac who he fooled into giving him the blessing due Esau.
Yet, he had enough sense, enough character to recognize or sense as he wrestled with his on issues of character which were many, that when he was wrestling with the messenger the angel of God he needed to hold on with all he had, to bear down, to not relent, not let go, but hold on recalling one of the traits he’d been born with grasping and holding on.
Jacob was being made into a better person by wrestling with his own issues, and wrestling with a messenger of God. You will be made a better person, our church will be made a better place by our openly, truly and sincerely wrestling with the word, will and nature of God in who and what we want or should be, or become.
Our nation as well as our beloved church, are caught up in the grips of some mighty and powerful forces currently, yet in every dire circumstance there exist opportunities for those willing to see, invest and risk in opportunities for forward and better movement. We have some forceful and mighty opportunities to come through these challenges better and stronger, and not remorseful sadden or anger because we refused to wrestle with God and our own individual deficits and deficiencies of character, faith or both.
Jacob, like you and I, our church, or our nation has not gotten better or improved without wrestling with issues concerns and challenges we too long have avoided. Wrestling with issues and striving is codified in the founding documents of our nation, quote; “We the people in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility…for the common defense, promote general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty…to establish this nation.” What does this mean? It means we will wrestle with whatever impedes or deny these truths to we the people, not some of the people, but all of the people.
Consider for a moment what we are wrestling with today in our nation. Ponder also what we are wrestling with here at St. Peter’s and nearly every church in this nation, as we strive for a more “perfect nation and church.”
We’re wrestling with declining and aging membership, declining worship attendance, we’re wrestling with what hymns we’re going to sing, and how we should sing them, what words, and rituals we’re recite. We’re wrestling with what or if there is a future St. Peter’s is worthy to have?
Our nation is wrestling with some monumental and momentous challenges, and we’re not doing well with that continues to stricken and kill. This past week our nation laid to rest a genuine hero who made our nation wrestle with it’s racist past, and present racial challenges, in the personhood of Congressman John Robert Lewis, who dedicated his life to proposition of making good trouble, so as a people, as a nation we would continue to strive for a more perfect union. To be that bright light in times of darkness beckoning tired, huddled masses seeking a better existence, and those here a more just experience.
The demorcarcy of our nation must be tended to, it must be nourished, it must be cared for, and protected, that’s work, hard work, but work we’re all called and charged to engage in, as we work for a more perfect union.
As I close To make St. Peter’s a more perfect church, we’re going to have to wrestle with stuff that not easy, nor popular, nor makes many if not all feel good about doing. Personal wants, ideas, thoughts versus or over against what the will, nature ways of God dictate and direct us to be and do.
It will be hard work, we’re tasked with it, but we’re not alone in this endeavor. Much like Jacob as we wrestle with our own stuff. Pray for God’s presence, and hold on tight to God, not letting go, until God blesses you, You maybe injured, you maybe hurt, but better to hobble, limp, or crawl into glory and heaven, than to walk upright into oblivion or hell. What Are you Wrestling with to make a more you, a more perfect church, a more perfect nation?