Summary: A sermon for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost
20th Sunday after Pentecost
"The Dark Night of the Soul"
"The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the day is breaking." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go, unless you bless me." And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." Then he said, "Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him, "Tell me, I pray, your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved." The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his thigh." Genesis 32:22-31, RSV.
"And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ’Vindicate me against my adversary.’ For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ’Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.’" And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"" Luke 18:1-8, RSV.
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
When I was in college, my first two years I was a drama major. I really enjoyed the theater, and the different plays I got to act in, and the different plays I had to read or see. One of my favorite plays, and one of the favorite plays for a lot of people since it was one of the longest running plays on Broadway, was Fiddler on the Roof. I really enjoyed reading, listening, and studying the part of Tevye, the father of that Jewish family of all girls. If one would really study the character of Tevye, one would see he is very human, a common sort of a man, but at the same time, he is wise beyond many so-called wise people of this world.
He also has a good relationship with his God. He is comfortable with God. He can talk freely with God about most any subject. His prayers to God are from the depth of his being, and at times they are very humorous, but at the same time reflect the concerns he has with his life and the world around him.
I would like to share just one of his conversations with God this morning.
Listen not only to his words. but the feelings:
Tevye is talking to God: "Today I am a horse. Dear God did you have to make my poor old horse loose his shoe just before the Sabbath. That wasn’t nice. It’s enough you pick on me, Tevye, bless me with five daughters, a life of poverty. What have you got against my horse? Sometimes I think when things are too quiet up there, You say to Yourself: ’Let’s see, what kind of mischief can I play on my friend Tevye’. He continues talking to God: "As the Good book says, Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed. In other words, send us the cure, we’ve got the sickness already. I’m not really complaining--after all, with your help, I’m starving to death. You made many, many poor people. I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor, but it’s no great honor either. So what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?"
Can you sense the comfort, the ease Tevye had in talking with God. Maybe his theology wasn’t the best blaming God for all of his troubles, but his expression, his right to express these kinds of feelings to God is what prayer is all about.