Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Reading – Genesis 28:10-19a; Psalm 139:1-11,22-23; Romans 8:12-25; Mathew 13:24-30, 36-43

Our proper collect for today begins with these words —

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom,                                                                                   you know our necessities before we ask                                                                                    and our ignorance in asking…

What are our necessities?  Talk about a big question.  What do we need to live?  What do we need to live our potential?

I would say that we need a purpose; we need to be on a mission; we need to have a reason for putting one foot in front of the other day by day. 

Let’s turn to the reading from Genesis, a part of the Jacob saga.  Abraham and Sarah produced Isaac.  Isaac and Rebecca produced Jacob.  And Jacob continues the nomadic life, wandering from place to place.  He stops for the night.  He uses a stone to prop up his head as a pillow.  He dreams.  He dreams of a ladder that we have come to call, “Jacob’s Ladder”.  Messengers of God, also known as angels, ascend and descend the ladder connecting heaven and earth.  Additionally, the Lord God stands at the foot of the ladder and speaks to Jacob.  The Lord God self-identifies as the God of Abraham, his grandfather, and the God of Isaac, his father.  The promise made to Abraham and Isaac is now made to Jacob.  God will grant him land and descendants, and “all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and your offspring”.  Then Jacob awakens from his dream and proclaims —                         

Surely the Lord God is in this place…

And he did not know it.  Jacob names the place Beth-el, the home of God, and then he gives thanks. 

Jacob now has a purpose – to continue the legacy of his grandfather and his father.  He is to be God’s man and to live his life so as to bless others.  Additionally, the Lord God will be with him as he continues his life, not just in Beth-el.  As wanders about, Jacob is to be a blessing to those he encounters. 

As his saga continues, we learn that Jacob does not always trust in God’s presence with him, he does not always trust in the promise of land and descendants, and he is not always a blessing to all he encounters.  Yet, God is faithful and accompanies Jacob and Rachel throughout their days in Israel, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. 

Jacob strays from his purpose, yet God is faithful and continues to call him back.  The ladder of descending and ascending messengers continues to connect heaven and earth and to serve as God’s avenue to remind Jacob of his purpose, to remind him of his mission. 

Of course, we know that the ultimate messenger of God that descends the ladder is God’s Son, Jesus, the Christ.  In his descent, we hear not only messages, but we see a life lived as an example of how to live with purpose, with mission.  Jesus connects heaven and earth for all time. 

As people of faith, our purpose is to serve, to be of use, to be a blessing to others. Psalm 139 proclaims —

                  Lord, you have searched me out and known me;                                                       …you know my sitting down and my rising up;                                                  …you are acquainted with all my ways,                                                            …you lay your hand upon me.                                                                                Search me out, O God, and know my heart…

Each one of us has a unique purpose, a unique way of being of service, of being of use, and a unique mission.  And we all have God’s promise made to Jacob —

know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go…

As in the parable from our reading from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, we are encouraged to have patience as we navigate patches of good seed and patches of weeds.  To be patient with our circumstances, to be patient with our companion crops, and most importantly, to be patient with ourselves.  Our purpose is always evolving, as our life’s path twists and turns.  Still, God is always with us, even when we acknowledge from time to time with Jacob, God is in this place and I did not know it.  How we serve, how we are of use, and how we bless others is constantly evolving as we continue our journey.  Yet, know this, God is with us, always and forever as God was with Abraham and Sarah, with Isaac and Rebecca, and with Jacob.  Jacob’s dream ladder connecting heaven and earth is our real ladder.  God is with us as a companion and guide for all the days to come. 


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