From now on you will be called…

Here’s a fresh take on an answering machine message:

Open quote markHello. This is not an answering machine, This is a question machine. And there are really only two questions that matter: who are you and what do you want?

Jacob got to answer those questions during his wrestling match with God.

Picture the scene: Jacob is feeling doomed. Twenty years ago he left his home and his family to escape the anger of his brother Esau. Now God has told him to return home, but Jacob is nervous: Does Esau still want to kill him? Jacob has learned that his brother Esau is coming to meet him with an army of 400 men! That doesn’t sound very peaceful.

Jacob has tried every trick in the book including prayer and an attempt to appease his brother with gifts. (Cattle, and camels, and goats, oh my!) Now he finds himself engaged in a full-throttle wrestling match with God! What next?!

Who are you?

Jacob got his name from the way he was born. As the second-born twin he entered the world holding on to the heel of his brother, so they named him “Heel-catcher.” In those days “Heel-catcher” had other not-so-nice meanings: “trickster,” “swindler,” or “scoundrel.” Hmm, Jacob lived up to his name, I’d say?

Now that God has asked him his name, Jacob has to admit it…

a name tag: hello my name is scoundrel

But God has a new name for “The Grabber!”

Open quote markYour name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.
Genesis 36:28 MSG

In giving Jacob a new name it is like God is saying: You may not think that you are “good enough,” but I love you anyway. I’m giving you a second chance. Here is how I mean for you to be.

Hmmm, this means that I could be…

Name tag: One who often prays OR Name tag: Full of thanks
How would you answer the question: What is your name?
What name would you like to live?

Discuss these questions with your family.


Photo credits:
A slightly altered “Hello, my name is…” originally by kirrilyrobert, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Thank God! The world is a place where one can encounter God. (If we notice.)

The altar last Thanksgiving

In this season of Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for?

My gratitude list includes the usual sorts of thankfuls, such as:

  • Greg’s pizza-oven-roasted potatoes.
  • Hearing about Lara’s “Best.Day.Ever.”
  • A text from Scott: safe arrival.
  • Lunch with a friend.
  • …To name just a few.

My list also includes hard things that seem difficult to be thankful for.

  • Tears at saying goodbye.
  • Facing change.
  • Mistakes, and more mistakes.
  • Hard eucharisteo.

And then there are entries on my list of things that I should be thankful for every day… but I just forget.

  • That God has chosen me for my weaknesses. (My weakness amplifes my need for God.)
  • That God is always present with me! (Whether I sense him or not, he is a constant companion!)
  • …So easy to forget!

Perhaps we are all like Jacob who experiences God in his life and says,

Open quote markSurely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.
Genesis 28:16

Our Cool Disciples story about Jacob and Esau is such a large story that we’ve broken it into two parts (part one and part two). With such a big story it is easy to loose sight of the main point. We could become embroiled in the details — who are all of the characters, and what happens, and in what order — which is important to know, but is not the most critical. Here is the point which we hope stands out:

God makes his presence known in our lives.

The world is a place where one can encounter God, reaching out to us.
If we take notice.

+++++++

As we head into the crazy-busy days ahead, can we make time to notice God? God seeks an encounter with us; God endeavors to get your attention!

For this I can say:

Thanks God!
Happy Thanksgiving
— Carol


Photo credits:
Photo of the Thanksgiving altar at church is from my archives.

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