She talks about Jacob wrestling with the angel and says:
Having received a new name, Jacob bestows a new name: he names that place, that bend in the river, Peni'el, literally "the face of God," saying, "For I have seen God face-to-face, yet my life has been spared."(which is really interesting in and of itself, given the multi-vocality of Scripture on seeing the face of God -- e.g., God to Moses in Exodus 33:20 "you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.") and then talks about Jacob's encounter with Esau, where he says:
No, please, if I have truly found favor in your sight, take the offering from my hand; for to see your face is like seeing the face of God.She closes with the bit from the Talmud about each individual human being being created in the image of God but each of us are unique -- unlike identical imperial coins each stamped with the mark of the secular leader.
This all seemed quite a lovely connection to Molly's "Light Gets In" Advent theme. But then she closes the post with her 70 Faces Torah poem on this parsha, which ends with such a downer:
For one impossible moment Jacob reached out.***
To see your face, he said, is like seeing
the face of God: brother, it is so good!
But when Esau replied, let us journey together
from this day forward as we have never done
and I will proceed at your pace, Jacob demurred.
The children are frail, and the flocks:
you go on ahead, he said, and I will follow
but he did not follow.
Once Esau headed out toward Seir
Jacob went the other way, to Shechem, where
his sons would slaughter an entire village.
And again the possibility
of inhabiting a different kind of story
vanished into the unforgiving air.
The theme for this year’s Advent is Light Gets In. No matter what walls we throw up, what boxes we climb in or that circumstances put us in—Light gets in. Light will have its way.To my mind, Advent is about the light slowly breaking in (we light first one candle and then a second, and so on), so I don't love this theme.
This Sunday in worship, I’ll be preaching on the walls humans throw up that block out Christ’s light. We’ll begin building an actual wall in the sanctuary, that will grow each week up until Christmas Eve, when the Light will get in. Will you bring cardboard boxes to church anytime you show up, and leave them on the chancel, and help us duct-tape them together to build our Babel-wall up toward heaven and obscure the cross?
-Molly in This Week at First Church
Pre-service lectio divina happened in the Parlor, and as a result we could hear the pre-service choir rehearsal. I heard "Emmanuel, Expected Jesus," and fell into Advent.
We did Luke 1:5-25, and I was struck by Gabriel's statement, "I stand in the presence of God."
Before service, I picked up a hardcopy of Molly's Advent calendar.
First Sunday in Advent: Put on your sparkle cream. Glow.
Unison Prayer of Confession+
We offer you our repentance.
We replace holy days with holidays.
We hurry past opportunities to give the gifts of kindness and honesty.
We do not listen to angels in our dreams, forgive those dearest to us,
Or welcome into hearts and homes, the poor and the stranger.
If all sin is separation, forgive us for all the walls we throw up, and let your Light in.
-Maren Tirabassi, adapted
Jamie facilitated an Advent Devotional Workshop, which I attended.
I was starting to investigate the art supplies when the horde of kids who had been playing war or something all came in and decided to do art (well, Simon was like, "Guys, can't we go back to what we were doing before?" and got ignored by all the kids wrapped up in doing art, so he compromised by making pictures of e.g. ninjas) so I stepped back from the chaos and worked on poetry.
Sue D., to her husband, later: "I was looking for the kids, and I found a craft fair, so I sat down."
I think I definitely want to go back to Art Night.
I really liked the Call to Worship we used at CWM tonight:
[One] How shall we prepare God's house for the coming of the Promised One?...
[Many] With fragrant branches of cedar, the tree of excellence and strength.
[One] How shall we prepare God's house for the Christ child?
[Many] With a stable and a manger where in the weeks to come, the mystery of the Advent story will be revealed and where the entire creation will welcome the Promised One.
[One] How shall we prepare God's house for Emmanuel, God with us?
[Many] With garlands of pine and fir, whose leaves are ever living, ever green -- symbols of our faith in the living God.
[One] How shall we prepare God's house for the prophet of Galilee?
[Many] With sprigs of holly and ivy, telling of Jesus' faithfulness, even unto death and resurrection.
[One] How shall we prepare our hearts for this revelation of God?
[Many] By hearing again the words of the prophets, the stories of the ancestors of Jesus, and the promises of God.
[One] For in the story of Jesus we see revealed the transforming power of God, and we are reminded anew of God's vision of wholeness, justice, and peace for all creation.
[Many] Thanks be to God!
Marla preached on Isaiah 11:1-9 and 1 Samuel 16:1-13. I was mostly meh, but she closed with talking about the fact that we ignore the parts of the Biblical stories that don't seem "proper" or "dignified" and inviting us to think about, if Jesus were to come as a baby a second time, what unexpected places that baby might show up in -- and her shocker suggestion was: born to a Wall Street executive (I thought of the Buddha).