A sermon and reflection series following the Revised Common Lectionary. Sunday sermons are based on the Psalm for the week. Written reflections are based on selected Scriptures from the same week.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God. / It will flame out, like shining from shook foil – Gerard Manley Hopkins*
At the beginning this passage, Jacob is fleeing for his life. He’s just lied to his blind, dying father. He’s cheated his older brother out of his rightful inheritance as the firstborn son. That brother (quite understandably) now wants to kill him. Jacob has no reason to expect God to show up in a dream, give him a glimpse of angels carrying out God’s work, and leave him a blessing. But God does all of these things.
Most of us have never had a dream even close to Jacob’s. But, as the poet and Jesuit priest Hopkins writes, God’s glory and beauty shine through all creation. And through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, God’s presence is always available to us. We don’t have to wait for God to reach us in a dream or go to a faraway holy place – although those are also options. We can see God, now, through every blade of grass or summer rain. Or, if nature doesn’t speak to us, in science, human interactions, architecture, or the arts. We can hear Him speak to us in our prayers and through the Word. We can feel the Spirit’s presence in our bodies, hearts, and minds.
We can also trust that if God wants to get our attention, He will. Both Jacob’s story and Psalm 139 tell us that God’s love can reach us anywhere, even if we’re running from it or unaware it exists. Whatever our present feelings towards God – shame, sadness, anger, weariness, indifference – God will literally move heaven and earth to reach out to us and assure us of His love.
What are your feelings towards God right now, positive or negative? Talk to God about them, and ask Him to be with you as you experience those feelings.
How would you like God to show His love today, both to you and to a specific person who doesn’t know Him yet?
*Full text of poem available here.