When a story is true, not just in fact but in its connection to life as it really is, it becomes a source of life. We get carried along with gracious surprise, finding pieces of ourselves, and who God is for us. This fall we follow the story of Jacob, that conflicted and restless man who wrestled with God.
One of our favourite theologians, Abraham Heschel, teaches us that the Bible is more about God’s search for us than our search for God. Jacob’s story is proof of that concept. For what we see here, in vibrant detail, is how God chases Jacob, pursuing him through his wanderings and failures until at the end of his story we see him fully caught by grace. He realizes all that has happened: “[Jacob] worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.” (Gen 47:31)
This story has it all. The mystery of birth order, the stress of sibling rivalry, the common seeds of relational breakdown, the consequences of falsity, the hope of romance, the long years of labour, the burden of an unreconciled past, the glory of forgiveness, the life- changing effect of wrestling with God. It’s all here.
Surprise! It's twins - Genesis 25:21-26
Even before Jacob and Esau are born their destinies seem predetermined. Their mother receives a message from God and even their names seem to describe the stories that will unfold in their lives. But if that's the case what does it means for us to engage with these ancient tales trusting that God is wiling to experience our journey alongside us, both the predictable and the unexpected?
Discussion Notes - Part 1
Birthrights - Genesis 25:27-34
So the boys grow up. One loves the outdoors and the other stays home near the tents. One is impulsive and brash and the other is crafty and opportunistic. Both have something to teach us.
Discussion Notes - Part 2
Hairy Arms - Genesis 27
Sometimes it feels like we need to take things into our own hands. But often when we do, and when we let loose our moral compass in the pursuit of what we think is 'good' we end up causing more damage than we imagined. God is interested in where we go. But God is equally interested in how we get there.
Discussion Notes - Part 3
On the Run - Genesis 28
The surprising thing about grace is that not only does often meet us in unexpected moments but that when it does it often speaks unexpected words. And here even as Jacob runs from his failures, his encounter with the divine is characterized by a scandalous grace and peace.
Discussion Notes - Part 4
7 (14) Year Wedding - Genesis 29
Just when Jacob is starting to get his life back on track things take a strange turn. And this time Jacob is one who gets cheated. What does it mean when our best intentions don't produce the kind of results we imagined. Is God any less near to us? * In the sermon Jeremy references a video about the #MeToo hashtag. You can find that video here.
Discussion Notes - Part 5
Face to Face - Genesis 31
Often times when we are deeply ashamed we attempt to cover our face. Sometimes even physically, more often by hiding behind a gift, or an email, or a gesture. However, somethings can only be done face to face and this is something Jacob will have to learn.
Discussion Notes - Part 6
Wrestling with God - Genesis 32
Well, this is it. The throwdown in Torah. The wrestling match between Jacob and YHWH. What a mysterious encounter as Jacob wrestles 'a man' but comes to know that somehow in the midst of his struggle he has encountered God directly.
Discussion Notes - Part 7
Reconciliation - Genesis 33
Everything comes full circle as Jacob and Esau stand face to face once again. But this time both men have become something very different than they were at the start of this story. There is growth and maturity and reoconcilaition to encounter in this final story of Jacob.