Thursday, July 17, 2014

Genesis 28:10-19a  

Visions belong to spiritual athletes, no?  Don’t they properly belong to hermits and cloistered religious, vocational mystics and prayer warriors?  Do not these men and women deserve visions because they have succeeded in putting away from themselves the sort of grinding wheels which distract the rest of us?

This Sunday’s Old Testament reading from the Book of Genesis contains just such a vision:    A ladder reaches up into heaven and on it the angels of God move up and down.  Jacob was one of the Old Testament heroes.  It all fits - this saintly man off in a desert.  Unlike us, at least.  Better than us, probably.  The stories leading up to, and following, this vision, however, reveal just what a fractured man Jacob was.  He was a thief and a fraud and a coward.  He is like the comic-book brother-in-law who plays fast and loose with his business, even family business, and who you can just about tolerate over turkey and green bean casserole at Thanksgiving.  

His story in the Book of Genesis will, moreover, do nothing but get worse for a while.  Jacob is, however, part of the story of God’s love to his family and to the world which will ultimately share the faith of Abraham’s children and grandchildren.  Unbidden and certainly undeserved, God grants him the grace of reminding him what part he plays in the restoration of the world.  

You may share no DNA with Jacob’s family and yet he is one of your ancestors in the faith.    Read on.  God wins over Jacob.  The earlier vision comes to bear fruit at the end.
What are the wheels that are grinding for you right now?   If your thoughts on Sunday morning were audible whispers what would we all hear?  How much family business?  How much business business?  What about grudges or complaints about what you lack?  What renders you insecure? What made you angry this morning?  

The life of our worshipping community, the Sunday morning panoply of words, prayers, sermons and songs, the ringing of bells and the elevation of bread and wine in ancient formularies - the midweek fellowship between us - these are moments and occasions of grace.  Do not reject those moments when you are seized by some fleeting glimpse of wholeness and beauty and unimagined possibilities.  Though the wheel continues to grind - be tender, even with yourself.  The vision has a purpose.  God can win you over.