Monday, February 25, 2008

Wrestle for Blessing

Why do you go to church? Why do you gather for worship with God’s people every Sunday, every Lord’s Day? One way to answer is that we go to worship in order to be blessed by God. Knowing that we are sinners, means that we know we can do nothing without God. Apart from God’s blessing our work, our family, our hopes and dreams, all that we are is futile apart from the blessing of God. Our lives are full of wrestling and struggle. We are Christians and therefore we struggle with joy and gladness, but we struggle and wrestle all the same. But we are the new Israel of God; we are called to be Jacob. We are called to recognize that our struggles, our wrestling is ultimately with God himself. Through the Spirit, he is giving us challenges, trials, testing, and responsibility, wrestling with us, because he loves us. And our task is to see the angel of the Lord in our struggles, to see God as the one wrestling with us, and to refuse to quit until he blesses us. Jacob clung to the angel of the Lord and insisted that he would not let go until he had been blessed. Likewise, we gather week by week in the midst of our struggles, in the midst of our wrestling and call out to God again in our weakness and in our frailty, “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” We gather here to cry out to God for his blessing. We gather here together because we refuse to let go until God blesses us. And we serve the God who loves to bless his people, the God who answers this prayer for blessing. Another way of saying all of this is that we go to church for the benediction. Of course all of the service is God’s ministry to us, but the benediction is the summing up of all the worship means. You confess your sins so that God can bless you; you hear his word so that you can obey and God may bless you; you eat and drink at his table as his blessing; and finally at the end God places his hands on you and assures you of his blessing. All of this is part of the reason why for the coming weeks we are kneeling on one knee for the benediction. Just as Jacob laid his hands on his grandsons and blessed them while they knelt down at his knees, so too God lays his hands upon you, through the minister and sends you back out into the world in peace.

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