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Healing Relationships - Genesis 32:9-13; 22-30

In our narrative lectionary reading for this upcoming Sunday we read about Jacob returning home to meet his brother Esau.  It is a powerful story of reconciliation. 

In the first section Jacob is praying, trying to prepare for this meeting.  He admits that God has blessed him.  The last time he crossed this river he was running for his life.  He had stolen his brother's birthright and then his blessing by tricking his father on his deathbed.  He left with nothing but his walking stick and his clothes, but here he was returning with so many people and animals that he had to split them up so that they could live off the land they traveled through.  He admits that he does not deserve any of it, but asks God to help him anyway.

In the second section he sends his family over the river and waits for the morning by himself.  Once alone, he wrestles with a man on the shore.  The grappled with each other all through the night until the man touched him hip and it came out of his socket.  Jacob refused to let go until the man blessed him.  The man asked his name and Jacob told him.  Jacob's name meant "heel" because he had grabbed his brother's heel.  In slang it meant trickster and it was a name he had lived into.  By admitting his name he was basically admitting to the sorry way he had lived.  The man told him that he would no longer be known as Jacob, but by the name Israel because he had wrestled with God and man and won.  The new name meant "wrestle with God". 

This is the way of reconciliation right?  We wrestle with others and we struggle with God, not wanting to face up to our part in the problem.  It is when we are alone that we wrestle the most with God.  We struggle with what God wants us to do.  We try to wrestle our way out of the task before us.  Reconciliation is hard work, it is death to ourselves.  Our old identity must die in the process.  The old self must be put to death. Know this though, the new identity is always better.  You are not wrong when you think that admitting fault may destroy your reputation, but you are wrong that it will make it worse.  Jacob stopped being "heel" he lost his reputation as a trickster, and gained a reputation as the man that won a wrestling match with God.  As you are called to loose yourselves
through reconciliation, what will your new identity be? 

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