I am not a wrestling fan. I can remember watching Stampede Wrestling ‘way back in the late 60s and early 70s but since then, not much interest.
Today’s Old Testament lesson has a story about wrestling in it but it isn’t the kind with fancy costumes, scripted outcomes, or people getting hit with metal folding chairs. The wrestling in the story of Jacob wrestling all night with a stranger is closer to what we might think of when we think of the Olympics.
To refresh your memory, Jacob is going back home and is going to encounter his brother, Esau, who is quite possibly going to kill him. Jacob sends his possessions ahead, then his wives, maidservants, and sons. He then stays behind and a man “appears” and the two of them wrestle all night. When neither can win Jacob’s opponent touches Jacob’s hip and dislocates it. Jacob refuses to let go of his opponent until this mysterious person blesses him. The man gives Jacob a new name, Israel, blesses him, and then, presumably, disappears. Jacob, now Israel, limps off to the next chapter of his story.
I have preached this passage before, I’m not sure how many times, and I think I mostly spend time thinking of the connection between blessing and Israel’s limp. The sermons today consider the possibility that Jacob/Israel wouldn’t get rid of the limp if it meant he lost the blessing. I also spend some time talking about how our various “limps” can bring blessings back to our memories.
As always, let me know what you think.