Genesis 25:22 Common English Bible (CEB)
22 But the boys pushed against each other inside of her, and she said, “If this is what it’s like, why did it happen to me?” So she went to ask the Lord.
1 Timothy 6:12 Common English Bible (CEB)
12 Compete in the good fight of faith. Grab hold of eternal life—you were called to it, and you made a good confession of it in the presence of many witnesses.
Genesis 32:22-32 Common English Bible (CEB)
Jacob wrestles with God
22 Jacob got up during the night, took his two wives, his two women servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed the Jabbok River’s shallow water. 23 He took them and everything that belonged to him, and he helped them cross the river. 24 But Jacob stayed apart by himself, and a man wrestled with him until dawn broke. 25 When the man saw that he couldn’t defeat Jacob, he grabbed Jacob’s thigh and tore a muscle in Jacob’s thigh as he wrestled with him. 26 The man said, “Let me go because the dawn is breaking.”
But Jacob said, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.”
27 He said to Jacob, “What’s your name?” and he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name won’t be Jacob any longer, but Israel, because you struggled with God and with men and won.”
29 Jacob also asked and said, “Tell me your name.”
But he said, “Why do you ask for my name?” and he blessed Jacob there. 30 Jacob named the place Peniel, “because I’ve seen God face-to-face, and my life has been saved.” 31 The sun rose as Jacob passed Penuel, limping because of his thigh. 32 Therefore, Israelites don’t eat the tendon attached to the thigh muscle to this day, because he grabbed Jacob’s thigh muscle at the tendon.
Fly on an airplane with an unhappy baby and you’ve seen a parent wrestle. The father tries to soothe his child so that the infant’s screams will stop. The flight attendants suggest a pacifier or a teething ring as travelers squirm in their seats. The estimated time of arrival seems to go from around the corner to nowhere in sight. Everyone wonders when the child will stop crying.
In the United States, many wonder when there will be an end to the political meltdowns of our day. Regardless of our own viewpoints, we struggle with politics and our Christian witness. In our church families and families of origin, we confess we are not on the same page.
We anticipate conversations at holiday gatherings to echo the polarization we see in our world. We prepare with a quick google search online to scan videos and blogs on how to navigate these anticipated rough waters. The easiest solution seems to be no solution at all. We may avoid discussion and action all together; we change the subject. We justify the silence by confessing we don’t want to add to the fray. We rationalize that there is no reason to be about facts or fake news, depending on our favorite news source. We think a shortcut to our faith might be simply to confess we are good news people with no business addressing hot button issues like children at our borders. We may opt for a defensive posture with bumper stick theology. “Jesus is the reason for the season,” we argue.
Except Jesus came as a child. And children may cause us to wrestle. Talking openly and frankly about children at the border challenges how we respond in faithfulness. There is blessing to be found as we examine our Christian witness. When we give each other space to listen, to love, and disagree, we acknowledge our longing for what is right and good.
Prayer and persistence guide our holy call to struggle. Rebekah was astounded at her children’s behavior before they were born. Even in utero, they were proving to be a challenge. Jacob wrestled with his brother, Esau, in the womb. Like any mother dealing with warring sibling factions, Rebekah cries out, “Why is this happening to me?” Her response is made visible in her faithfulness. She goes to the Lord. When Jacob wrestles in the night, he does not let go until he is blessed. He is persistent.
Guided by prayerfulness, we seek holy conversation together around hard issues. Taking time to struggle as we address the news of children at our borders strengthens our unity in Christ. Being able to have tough conversations deepens our unity without mandating uniformity. The tension we may face points to the good fight we are called to keep fighting. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made, in the image of God, as a child of God.
Prayer: O Sovereign and Almighty Lord, bless all thy people, and all thy flock. Give thy peace, thy help, thy love unto us thy servants, the sheep of thy fold, that we may be united in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one hope of our calling, in thy divine and boundless love. (Liturgy of St. Mark, 2nd century)
— Rev. Laura Dunlap firstname.lastname@example.org