Here are three prayer stations we shared in to conclude our Jacob series. They can be visited in any order. They can also be used for personal reflection at home.
Setup: Highlighters, jugs of oil, tray of sand and large river rocks in the centre of room.
Genesis 28:10-19 Common English Bible (CEB)
Jacob’s dream at Bethel
Jacob left Beer-sheba and set out for Haran. He reached a certain place and spent the night there. When the sun had set, he took one of the stones at that place and put it near his head. Then he lay down there. He dreamed and saw a raised staircase, its foundation on earth and its top touching the sky, and God’s messengers were ascending and descending on it. Suddenly the Lord was standing on it[a] and saying, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will become like the dust of the earth; you will spread out to the west, east, north, and south. Every family of earth will be blessed because of you and your descendants. I am with you now, I will protect you everywhere you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done everything that I have promised you.”
When Jacob woke from his sleep, he thought to himself, The Lord is definitely in this place, but I didn’t know it. He was terrified and thought, this sacred place is awesome. It’s none other than God’s house and the entrance to heaven. After Jacob got up early in the morning, he took the stone that he had put near his head, set it up as a sacred pillar, and poured oil on the top of it. He named that sacred place Bethel,[b] though Luz was the city’s original name.
a Genesis 28:13 Or beside it or beside him
b Genesis 28:19 Or God’s house
Hi-light the words shine out to you from this reading today.
Pick up a rock and think about the places you find yourself during the week.
Reflect on the quotes on the wall.(below)
Place your rock on the sand. Pour oil on the rock and invite the Holy Spirit of Jesus to help you dream and live in the awareness of God’s presence in every place you find yourself.
Quotes by rocks:
“The Lord is definitely in this place, but I didn’t know it. He was terrified..”
Contemplation is a long loving look at what is real. How often we are fooled by what mimics the real. Indeed, we live in a culture that flaunts the phony and thrives on glittering fabrication. We are so bombarded by the superficial and the trivial that we can lose our bearings and give ourselves over to a way of living that drains us of our humanity. Seduced by the superficial, we lose the very freedom we think all our acquisitions will provide. When we are engaged in the experience and practice of radical amazement, we begin to distinguish between the genuine and the junk. Caught up in contemplative awareness and rooted in love, we begin to break free from cultural confines and embrace the truth that lies at the heart of all reality: We are one.
-Judy Cannato Radical Amazement: Contemplative Lessons from Black Holes, Supernovas, and other Wonders of the Universe. 2006 Source: http://www.edgeofenclosure.org/proper11a.html
Quotes by tray of sand:
O thou who camest from above the fire celestial to impart,
kindle a flame of sacred love upon the altar of my heart.
There let it for thy glory burn with ever bright, undying blaze,
and trembling to is source return in humble prayer and fervent praise.
Jesus confirm my heart’s desire to work, and speak, and think for thee;
still let me guard the holy fire and still stir up the gift in me.
Still let me prove thy perfect will, my acts of faith and love repeat,
till death thy endless mercies seal, and make the sacrifice complete.
– Charles Wesley 1707-1788
Many a song have I sung in many a mood of mind,
But their notes have always proclaimed:
He comes, comes, ever comes.
– Rabindranath Tagore.
Set up: Sheer fabric as water running through the centre of the room, speakers and river sounds, pens.
Genesis 32:22-31 (CEB)
Jacob wrestles with God
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. He took them and everything that belonged to him, and he helped them cross the river. But Jacob stayed apart by himself, and a man wrestled with him until dawn broke. 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. The man said, “Let me go because the dawn is breaking.”
But Jacob said, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.”
He said to Jacob, “What’s your name?” and he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name won’t be Jacob any longer, but Israel,[a] because you struggled with God and with men and won.”
Jacob also asked and said, “Tell me your name.”
But he said, “Why do you ask for my name?” and he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel,[b] “because I’ve seen God face-to-face, and my life has been saved.” The sun rose as Jacob passed Penuel, limping because of his thigh.
a Genesis 32:28 Or God struggles or one who struggles with God
b Genesis 32:30 Or face of God
The story in Genesis 32 finds Jacob homeward bound after 20 years away, with his past threatening to catch up with him. Faced with the prospect of meeting up with Esau, who may yet wish revenge, Jacob finds himself at a turning point: he can face up to what waits for him or he can do what he has done in the past — turn tail and run.
As this passage opens, Jacob seems to be finding a way to protect what is his in the face of Esau’s wrath. His trickster mind engaged, Jacob has divided up his family and servants into two separate camps and has sent them away, across the Jabbok River, leaving him alone. This is a rare event. Like most twins, Jacob has virtually never had a solitary moment. Since his conception, he has been tied up and entangled with at least one other human being at any given moment..
Amy Merrill Willis
Listen to the sound of the water. Allow yourself to name anything fearful you may be facing or running from at this time.
The man said, “Let me go because the dawn is breaking.”
But Jacob said, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.”
He said to Jacob, “What’s your name?”
Write your name onto your hand before God this morning.
Become aware of any sensations in your body and the nearness of the Eternal one.
Is there any part of you that is wrestling for God’s blessing today?
Even in the wounding and scarring.
Quotes near pens:
The boldness of our love is pleasing to you, O Lord, just as it pleased you that we should steal from your bounty.
— Ephrem the Syrian c.306-373
Moreover, even as Jacob finds himself facing up to this divine opponent and surviving it.. so Jacob also finds the resources to face his brother and embrace him.
Amy Merrill Willis
Set-up: Large image of wrestlers in black line, red paint, bowl of water and towel, boxing gloves.
Blow by blow
Genesis 32:22-31The Voice (VOICE)
22 Later that same night, Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his 11 children; and he crossed the Jabbok River. 23 He sent them all ahead across the stream along with everything he had; 24 but Jacob stayed behind, left alone in his distress and doubt. In the twilight of his anguish, an unknown man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the man saw he was not winning the battle with Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was thrown out of joint as he continued to wrestle with him.
Man: 26 Let me go; the dawn is breaking.
Jacob: I will not let you go unless you bless me.
Man: 27 What’s your name?
Man: 28 You will no longer go by the name Jacob. From now on, your name will be Israel because you have wrestled with God and humanity, and you have prevailed.
Jacob: 29 Please, tell me your name.
Man: Why do you ask what my name is?
Right then and right there the man blessed Jacob. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel because as he said, “I have come face to face with God, and yet my life was spared.” 31 The sun began to rise as Jacob passed by Penuel, limping because of his dislocated hip.
Jacob only just survived this intimate encounter with the Eternal one.
Take time to look over the all-night fight again blow by blow. What can you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel? Who was fighting for what? What do you hear between the breathless demands?
Dip your finger in the paint to write anything that comes to mind on the fighters.
Wash your hand in the bowl.
Jacob: Please, tell me your name. Man: Why do you ask what my name is?
Take a posture that allows you to meditate on the character of God revealed in this story. One that cannot be defeated, labelled, predicted, tamed or made accountable to us.
Quote near boxing gloves:
Every family of earth will be blessed because of you and your descendants.
Quote near fighting scene: The character of Jacob and the character of God are both remarkably displayed in this passage. God does not punish Jacob’s conflictive character, but challenges it and reshapes it so that Jacob is able to live into his promised destiny as Israel, which according to verse 29 means “one who strives with God and humans.” Jacob’s story is a much-needed reminder that in the life of faith, there is no one model to which we must conform and submit. God entertains all kinds of characters and personalities, even those who appear to be unconventional or irreverent by our standards.
Finally, the story also challenges any attempt to domesticate God and make the deity fit into some easy mold, whether that is “the wrathful God” or the “God who meets my needs.” Jacob came away from the encounter with unbounded blessings, but he also walked away limping — a man permanently marked. It attests to the complex reality of a God who is intimately engaged with humans, who seeks them out, and blesses them, even it reminds us that this God is wily, unpredictable, and dangerous.
Amy Merrill Willis
Quote near bowl of water:
Do Not Be Afraid
We should be afraid, of course,
to be so near to God.
We should be startled by the glory of God
and the disruption of angels.
We should be freaked. out. that God even blinks
in our direction, let alone that God dares us
to walk a new path just to see what
God can do with life.
“Do not be afraid; have a child.”
“Do not be afraid; leave your home.”
“Do not be afraid; give up your reputation.”
“Do not be afraid; press on through hardship.”
“Do not be afraid; face a powerful enemy.”
Be totally overwhelmed.
Be stunned and terrified, in fact,
but here’s the critical part:
be near to God
~ written by Rachel Hackenberg, and posted on Rachel G Hackenberg. http://rachelhackenberg.com/blog/