I don’t know about you but I don’t think about wrestling very often. It isn’t that I look down on wrestling or think it is silly or anything like that, I simply don’t think about it at all. But sometime I’m “forced” to. This Sunday is one of those times.
Not because I got into an impromptu wrestling match. Not because someone insisted I watch theatrical wrestling. Not even because I was watching Olympic wrestling. No, it was because I read this Sunday’s Old Testament text . . . which features wrestling. Weird, yeah I know.
The story is familiar to most churchy people but it is worth briefly reviewing. Jacob was alone on one side of a river, having sent his family and retinue ahead. As night fell, an anonymous man “wrestled with him until daybreak.” (Genesis 32.24 NRSV) When it became obvious that neither was going to win, the man put Jacob’s hip out of joint, Jacob held on to him and wouldn’t let go until the man blessed him. The man blessed Jacob and gave him a new name, Israel.
Okay, just because you are familiar with it doesn’t mean you know what is going on with this story. The man was either God or an angel. We don’t know why Jacob was suddenly propelled into a wrestling match. We don’t know which move dislocated Jacob’s hip, some translations say the man touched the hip and that was enough.
So why preach about it? Because it gives us the opportunity to reflect on blessing. Where does blessing come from? Does it always come in the midst of comfort? Conflict? Chaos? I spent some time talking about all of these and you are welcome to listen to what I had to say about it below. As always, the two sermons are different, while hopefully covering the same thing. The St. Mark’s version this Sunday has a bit more of “me” in it than the Knox version so if that sways your choice . . . .
Knox Presbyterian Wrestling for a blessing (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)
St. Mark’s Wrestling for a blessing Presbyterian (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)