The Struggle is Real
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
In the name of the Father, and of the ☩ Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Morning Psalm- Psalm 19: 1-4
Heaven is declaring God’s glory; the sky is proclaiming his handiwork. 2 One day gushes the news to the next, and one night informs another what needs to be known. 3 Of course, there’s no speech, no words— their voices can’t be heard— 4 but their sound extends throughout the world; their words reach the ends of the earth.
Genesis 25: 7-11; 19-26
7 Abraham lived to the age of 175. 8 Abraham took his last breath and died after a good long life, a content old man, and he was placed with his ancestors. 9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave in Machpelah, which is in the field of Zohar’s son Ephron the Hittite, near Mamre. 10 Thus Abraham and his wife Sarah were both buried in the field Abraham had purchased from the Hittites. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, and Isaac lived in Beer-lahai-roi. 19 These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham became the father of Isaac. 20 Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean and the sister of Laban the Aramean, from Paddan-aram. 21 Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, since she was unable to have children. The Lord was moved by his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 But the boys pushed against each other inside of her, and she said, “If this is what it’s like, why did it happen to me?” So she went to ask the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; two different peoples will emerge from your body. One people will be stronger than the other; the older will serve the younger.” 24 When she reached the end of her pregnancy, she discovered that she had twins. 25 The first came out red all over, clothed with hair, and she named him Esau. 26 Immediately afterward, his brother came out gripping Esau’s heel, and she named him Jacob. Isaac was 60 years old when they were born.
God tells, Rebekah, the daughter-in-law of Sarah, that the source of her pain in pregnancy is that there are two nations within her, and they are struggling against each other. God says, “two different peoples will emerge from your body.” The fetal boys are breaking, bruising, crushing each other, within her, before they’ve even emerged in the world. The emergence of the people of God, was a struggle before they were even born.
Of the two boys, it is Jacob who will become Israel, but not without more struggles, more striving, and more pain for both himself, and those around him. Later, as an adult, Jacob will find himself wrestling again, not with his womb companion, but with a man, perhaps an angel, or Godself. The Bible says Jacob received the new name, Israel, “for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” The Hebrew word for “to strive” is שָׂרָה pronounced, saw-raw, or sarah. In God’s renaming of Jacob as Israel, God in effect, names him in the spirit of Jacob’s grandmother, who God renamed Sarah, which also means, “to have power.” Sarah, the grandmother of Israel, is a woman who strived, who prevailed, who had power. Her grandson, before his first breaths, was struggling, striving, reaching, grasping for power, and Israel, the people of God, emerged, prevailed, grew into power.
Religion scholar, Susan Niditch points out, in Genesis, women “are markers and creators of transition and transformation…their roles as people ‘in between’ can be powerful and critical for the development of the stories and for the progress of human civilization and Israelite culture.”
Rebekah felt within her, the pain of a people striving, struggling to emerge. She carried and birthed the struggle of her people and held the power of their emergence. Sarah, felt the longing for a child, carried the longing for 90 years within her, and she is forever known for her striving and prevailing. They also make clear that the birth and progress of God’s people has never come easily, but with deep longing, pain, struggle, striving, labor, laughter, and joy.
Right now, we are held within a time “in between,” and we witness the striving and the struggle for power, influence, meaning, all around us. As the struggle of the boys (two nations) within her caused pain to mother Rebekah, so there is pain for so many in our own time, made worse by reaching and grasping for power around and within us. We wait and also strive to emerge. But the story of transition and transformation brought to light more by Sarah and Rebekah, gives us the chance to see the strength we each have to discover within ourselves because we are “in between.” I am witnessing the strength of faith and hope of so many of you, the patience and also the realism and optimism you hold together. There may be crying out in pain, as Rebekah does before God, wondering, “Why did this happen to me?” And yet from this, through this, each of you and all of us together are part of the emergence of people transformed, and emerge we will, moving God with our prayers.
Let us Pray:
Satisfy us with your love in the morning,
and we will live this day in joy and praise.
we rejoice this morning in the gift of life, which we have received by your grace, and the new life you give in Jesus Christ.
Especially we thank you for
ministries of compassion, witness, and service . . . those who make and grow the things we need . . . the communities in which we live . . .
strength and abilities to serve you today . . . indications of your love at work in the world . . .
People of God, for what else do we give thanks? Add your own prayers of thanksgiving.
God of grace,
we offer our prayers for the needs of others and commit ourselves to serve them
even as you have served us in Jesus Christ.
Especially we pray for the church in Africa . . .
the conservation of the soil, water, and air . . . those closest to us in this community . . . friends and relatives who are far away . . .
all who care for others in body, mind, and spirit . . .
And for Dick Shepley and his family, Mary, Sharon and Tom Herrold, Duana, Larry, Jennifer Watkins, Brenda and Cliff, Bob, Rochelle, Karen and Steve, Barb and Butch, Sharron Blezard, Marcia, Rose, Phil and Alice, Stanley Hope, Jake, John, Julie, the nurses of our Medical Outreach Clinic and…
People of God, for what else do we pray? Add your own prayers.
God of our salvation,
as the light of morning dawns heaven and earth sing your praise. Cause us to live and grow in faith so that we may bear good fruit
for the glory of your holy realm; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“God the Father, ☩ Son, and Holy Spirit watch over us. Amen.”