Kody’s Devotional – June 13-19, 2019

From Kody…

Jacob wrestling God is one of the strangest and most mysterious stories in all the Bible. In Genesis 32, God visits Jacob in the middle of the night and wrestles him until day break. As God departs the wrestling match, God dislocates Jacob’s hip then blesses Jacob and gives him a new name, Israel or one who wrestles with God. We are told that Jacob walks away from the scene with a limp after being blessed by this divine wrestler. The narrator then closes the story by telling us that this is why to this day that the Israelites, Jacob’s offspring, do not eat the thigh muscle on the hip. Wait a second. Jacob wrestles God and has his hip injured leaving him permanently maimed and the Israelites are celebrating it by not eating a particular kind of food? I would argue that this is the most important point in the story. It doesn’t matter that Jacob wrestled God if no one remembers it. The Israelites knew that. Our wrestles with God and experiences with the divine do not matter if we do not remember them.

We tend to think about faith and belief as being one in the same. We might experience God in a powerful way and we might say that it strengthened our belief. What we mean to say is that having those kinds of experiences makes it easier for us to believe in the moment. The truth is that belief and faith are not the same. Faith is a response to an experience with God. Faith is faithfulness to an experience with the divine. We might feel as though our belief is strengthened temporarily after an encounter with the divine but we will not stay on that mountain top high forever. We have to come down the mountain and in this way Faith is the art of remembering. How will we remember our experience when we are back down in the valleys of everyday life? How will we be faithful to when we wrestled with God and walked away blessed when things go back to feeling normal and we are back in our familiar routines?

The answer is simple and incredibly difficult, we just need to remember. When we come together in worship each Sunday we remember our shared experiences of God’s action in this world. When we share Communion we remember that God is in community with us and calls us to be in community with others. None of these practices are magical but they are meaningful only because they help us remember who we are and how God has acted in this world and in our lives. Our belief might wane after an incredible God moment but we can always remember. We remember our wrestling and our limping after an encounter with God because remembering together is what it truly means to have faith.

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