26th July 2020 is the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost and this week continues our journey through the Book of Genesis.
Today’s it’s the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah. As we’ve already seen, Jacob is a self-seeking schemer. Nevertheless, he seems to be favoured by God.
But things do not work out as he hopes here – in his quest to win the hand in marriage of Rachel. Instead, he gets his comeuppance. Is it retribution for deceiving his elder brother, Esau, out of his inheritance?
Schadenfreude – joy in someone else’s misfortune. It’s a German word. Some have said there is no equivalent word in English because there is no such feeling in the English-speaking world. Oh, really?
Read Genesis 29:15-28 (a wee bit further down this page) and see if you can avoid smiling at Jacob’s difficulties.
Below you will find today’s prayers, scripture readings, musical selection and Rev. Geoff McKee’s audio sermon.
Genesis 29:15-28 (New International Version)
15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.”
16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.
25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”
28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.
1 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
4 Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.
5 Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
6 you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
7 He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
8 He remembers his covenant forever,
the promise he made, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant he made with Abraham,
the oath he swore to Isaac.
10 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant:
11 “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as the portion you will inherit.”
45 that they might keep his precepts
and observe his laws.
Praise the Lord.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
More Than Conquerors
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast
31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
The Parable of the Net
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.
“Yes,” they replied.
52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
My one desire is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.
Lord God, we exalt you today. We acknowledge your authority and power and come before you assured that you move to us in love. God of life, as we recall the night’s unsettled dreams, as we foresee the day’s demands, come to us in the desires of our heart, in the anger of the excluded, in all we might discount—until we find you everywhere, until your holy love leavens every impulse, for we pray in the name of Jesus, whose surprising call continues to be heard.
Lord, we imagine that we are capable judges of power and wisdom and goodness. We trust our own standards; we separate and categorise; we mark the performance of others. We fail to trust your power, hidden in all things. We fail to watch for you, working out your purposes. Merciful God, forgive us our many sins. Gracious God, hidden and manifest, transform our withered imaginations until we yield the judgments we trust to a love we cannot control.
Holy God, we try to fix and fasten you, but you will not be stayed. You are love in motion: always breathing us into being, calling us to serve, sustaining us in the wilderness. Come to us as the morning breaks. Soften what has grown dry and brittle in our hearts until we worship with abandon, for we pray in the name of the Son you sent and through the Spirit that gives us life. Amen.
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Prayers of Intercession
Holy God, we do not know how to pray, but Jesus invites us into the life he shares with you, and so we keep coming—because we want to live. Receive us now in our frailty, our complacency, our desire.
We pray for your church all over the world, that we would be seed and yeast where life has grown barren and heavy. May the life we discover in you bind us to each other and to the world you love, for no need is beyond the strength of your call, and no child of yours is expendable.
Merciful God, give us wisdom and courage beyond our imagining. We pray for friends and strangers in the grip of addiction. Make us able companions for each other, and bless us with hope that bears fruit.
We pray for unsettled economies and those whose needs are overlooked in the choices of the powerful. We remember those whose lives have been damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic; those left bereaved, those trying to recover who feel they are getting nowhere, those facing financial hardship, those suffering from fear and insecurity. May we bear our responsibilities for them with open hearts and open hands, by prayer and petition.
We pray for all who stand at the thresholds of life: for your children who are soon to be born and your children who are soon to go home. We give thanks for new faces to love, ideas to ponder, work to do—and we marvel at the sturdy friendships and persistent memories that sustain us when the way is hard. May each be a reminder of your love and your provision.
Holy One, keep calling us into the world—your world—as seed and yeast and treasure. Equip each of us for the challenges we will face until we learn to worship in the most unlikely places, for you are the source of our song and the well from which we pray, wherever we are planted.
By the power of your Spirit, we make our prayer with resurrection hope, in the name of Jesus, who gave his life out of love for the world and who taught us to pray…
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
This week, Kath Robertson has chosen The perfect wisdom of our God (Getty/Townend).
This song refers to God’s wisdom expressed through the creation and also how God guides us in our lives through all the joys, sorrows and sufferings. By accepting the great wisdom of our God, it allows us to trust Him with every aspect of our lives, remembering that it’s His will, not ours.