Saturday, June 18, 2005

Wrestling for a Blessing Part 3

Let me explain. Jacob, earlier in his life, had stolen the blessing from his brother, Esau. And whereas the birthright I talked about last time gave him the family wealth, the blessing gave him the right and the power to carry on the family name. It made him the official #1 son. I suspect he thought that with this happening, that everything in his life would fall together. That this discontent that stirred in his heart would just go away. That his insecurities and hang-ups would quickly disappear. I think he thought the blessing was some super-therapy or magic pill that would bring everything together for him.

A lot of us view the blessing of God the same way. Like a magic pill of some sort, that once we do the right thing or say the right words that everything will be happier, everything will be easier, everything will be BETTER.

Some of us look at a blessing more like solving a math equasion or a chemistry problem. If we just do this much of this, and this much of that, and we throw in a little of this, than everything will be alright. All you have to do is walk through a Christian bookstore to see this idea in full form. Take these five purposes and everything will work out great. Take these four steps to peace with God. Adhere to these spiritual laws. Seven steps to your best life NOW.
Now a lot of these step by step things have helped people in their lives in powerful, well publicized ways. But having faith is not a cause and effect way to manipulate the universe.

A blessing is not about always being right. Always feeling good about everything. NOW, does God’s blessing often include material prosperity? Sometimes. Does God’s blessing include good feelings, a change of circumstances for the better, and finding ways to live a better life? Most definitely. BUT are the wealth, the health, the circumstances that fall into place, GOD’S BLESSING in and of itself. NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. THE BLESSING IS BIGGER, IT IS SIMPLER, it is more ACCESSABLE, and it is more ordinary than that.

Gaining the blessing is not about finding the right opportunities to take from God what we need, it is not about finding the right moves in life to be successful. It is soo much more important than that.

Let us go back to the priestly blessing that Gwen read for us from the book of Numbers. The poem is chiastic in its literary form. Let me explain. In our form of communication, when we are reporting something, we put the most important things at the beginning of the communication. The theme sentence that our English teachers taught us about, or the HEADLINE in a newspaper. And in a good detective or mystery novel, or a good movie, we put the best stuff at the end.

But when a good Hebrew poet wanted to make a point, he put the point right in the middle of the whole thing. Most of the time. I could get into this a little more, but it is probably left for a conversation after church or a classroom setting. And this point, just trust me. Its structure puts its most important point in the middle.

And what is that most important point.
“May the Lord’s face shine upon you, and be gracious to you.”

Now the words before and after ask for safety, peace, material blessing, and all that stuff. But the most important part of the blessing. The defining part of the blessing was something different.

1 comment:

Miz Peg said...

Friar -- I enjoyed your sermon. Thanks for sharing. It was interesting to know that "wrestle" can sometimes mean hug. That is one of the passages in the Bible that most of us need explained to us.