God's always "hooking us," pulling us back: back to the Word, back to the Meal, back to the Font...back to the community.

This blog is for the purpose of sharing around each Sunday's Bible readings & sermon at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church.

Get Sunday's readings here. We follow the Narrative Lectionary.
(In the summer, we return to the Revised Common Lectionary' epistle or Second Reading here.)

So, what's been hooking you?

So, what's been hooking you?

Here you can...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

September 24 -- Jacob's Dream

Jacob went to sleep in one place, and he woke up in a very different spot.  

He went to sleep not knowing — not having any idea — what was next for him.  He went to sleep afraid, alone and anxious.  He was running from his angry brother.  He had colluded with his clever mother, and tricked his blind father Isaac into giving him the birthright.  Jacob had stolen, lied, cheated and now is fleeing.  (We skipped over those verses.)   Jacob was living into his name — heel.  He was grabbing his twin brother’s heel at birth, and it sounds like he’s been tripping up Esau and others ever since... 

Now he’s a man on the run, but has to stop for the night.  He can’t go on any more.  He’s out of gas.   No idea what was next...but, man, did he have a rocky past!  Must have felt like he has no family at this point.  He hasn’t even wrestled with God yet (that great story comes in a few more chapters)!  It seems as though he’s far from everything and everyone.  “Now [he lays himself] down to sleep”...on a rock pillow! 

And that’s when he has this dream.  He goes to sleep in one place, and he wakes up in a very different spot.  When he goes to sleep on the rock, all is lost.  But when he wakes up he is suddenly aware that he is totally and completely in God’s presence!  

God is right there with him!  Has been all along!

What was it about that dream, that stairway to heaven, Jacob’s ladder?  It was like a vision of hope and peace and freedom for him. 

Not freedom to leave this earth and go up to heaven now, but rather the awareness of God’s greater presence, God’s messenger angels, moving both up and down: an free flow, a open connection, with heaven!  The freedom is in the knowing that the Divine is within our reach and easily accessible!  That’s what Jacob suddenly sees here!   

And the freedom of knowing that God’s right here, right next to us — did you catch that?  God wasn’t way up at the top of the ladder; God was standing right beside him here on the ground, planted in the earth!  

That’s when God speaks directly to Jacob for the first time in the biblical text.  It wasn’t a booming voice in the sky.  It was close whisper.  Words of promise, words of presence: “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go...I will not leave you...”
Jacob goes to sleep on a hard rock and wakes up in a cushion of grace.
When we rest, sisters and brothers in Christ, God is working on us.  When we lay down.  When we stop running, and finally crash; when we get to that place of settling for just about anywhere to lay our head; when we’re at our wits end; when we hit rock bottom...as individuals, as congregations, as communities, as a nation, or even as a planet...when we hit rock bottom [pause] — that’s precisely when we may be most susceptible to God’s words AND GOD’S VERY PRESENCE comforting and assuring us.  Re-aligning us with God’s vision.  Jacob’s dream aligned him — realigned him — with the help of that rock pillow, Jacob’s dream aligned him with God’s vision.

Sisters and brothers in Christ, God is right next to you too, ready to realign you with a divine vision — hope, peace, freedom, even joy.  

The 3rd verse of our HoD that we’re about to sing: 

May our dreams prove rich with promise; 
each endeavor well begun; 
Great Creator, give us guidance
till our goals and yours are one.

Our dreams and visions are aligned with God’s dreams and visions.  Think about what God’s dream is for you.  What is God’s dream for this congregation, this community, this nation, this world?  And how is God working through you — both in your hours at work and in your hours at rest — to align our dreams to God’s dream?  Are they the same.

Whether you know it, whether you believe it, whether you’re in touch with it — or not, we can echo Jacob’s wake-up song today: “Surely the Lord is in this place—I just had no idea!”

When we lie down, we lie down in Christ, and when we wake up, we wake up in Christ…in God’s presence and promise.  And this day, as in every day God is moving, the Holy Spirit is stirring in us, in our community, in our hearts — even in the midst of turmoil all around.  

You’d think this is the last place God would want to dwell, with all the destruction and cruelty we human beings, can inflict on one another, even those of us who fancy ourselves pretty good people.  Why would God want to stand beside us?!  Make promises to us?  Love us?  Forgive us? 
And yet, God does.  AMEN.  

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