52 Weeks at the Table – Week 8
Abraham’s grandson Jacob cheated his older brother Esau out of the blessing that belonged to him for the price of a cup of red stew. Before the inevitable reunion of the two brothers, Jacob sent his family away in two groups so he might not lose all to Esau’s wrath – then sent gifts to placate him. Camping at a place where he had seen angels before, Jacob prayed for safety and mercy on those he loved, then fought all night with someone who touched his the socket of his hip and made it impossible to run from the one who was wronged, and blessed him with the name Israel – “Wrestler with God.” Israel felt he had seen God face to face yet had lived. But the real surprise was yet to come, when his brother Esau ran from a distance to greet him, embrace his neck, and weep together for joy with him.
In an upper room, at a meal to celebrate God’s rescue of Israel’s descendants from Egypt, Jesus prayed for the safety and unity of those He loved – a few of the many souls throughout time whom He was about to reconcile with God, but at the cost of His life. In a garden, He wrestled with God over what had to be done. When some of Israel’s descendants came to arrest Him, they saw Him and did not recognize the face of God – so they struck that face. And lived with what they had done.
Father, forgive us, for we don’t always know what we are doing. Yet You let us live with what we have done. Too often we do know what we have done, though, and we are aware enough to dread our inevitable reunion with You. But this feast touches the socket of our reflex to run; immobilizes us with Your passion for us to be reconciled to You; stuns us with the promise of Your embrace. God, forgive us as we remember Jesus and recognize His body in this bread. Amen.
God of Israel, we have often cheated ourselves out of great blessing for little more gratification than some stew. We have alienated ourselves from brothers we love. And we have wronged You. This cup reminds us of the price of our selfishness and foolishness and fear; it reminds us that the blood of Your Son bought our reconciliation with You, and we have no words adequate to express our thanks. Accept our lives, we pray through Him. Amen.”