Saturday, September 5, 2015

State of the Union II

State of the Union II                                      9/6/15

Genesis 32:22-32, John 2:1-11

Jacob:  Out of struggle and difficulty, came a blessing from the one he wrestled

Jesus:  His power blessed others

Last week, for our State of the Union sermon, we looked at two believers from Scripture, Jacob, and his dream of the angels ascending and descending from heaven, and Nathanael and his call to follow Jesus Christ.

In the stories of Jacob, we see an element of guile, but Jesus Christ says that Nathanael has no guile.  Jacob vows to follow the God of his fathers, depending on God’s fulfillment of his conditions.  Nathanael’s response to Jesus is simply “You are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel”.   We then unpacked the idea of the Lord’s presence and promise, as well as our responses to these certainties.

Today, we return to Jacob, whose dream last week occurred early in his separation from his family after his conflict with his brother Esau.  In today’s reading, Jacob is prepared to meet with his brother.  Messengers came to Jacob to say that Esau and his 400 hundred men were coming to see Jacob.  This causes Jacob great anxiety, wondering if his family will be destroyed.  He prepares a series of gifts to present to Esau, so that by the time the brothers see each other, the path might be clear for reunion.

Jacob sends the last of his family across the river:  because, if Esau can’t find it in his heart to welcome his 11 nephews, and niece, then what chance does Jacob have?  After sending them across the River Jabbock, Jacob quickly sees that his night is just beginning.

The Scripture simply says that Jacob then wrestled with a man all night.  It seems that this man could be Jesus Christ.  This idea is called a theophany:  an appearance of God in human form.  The Scripture says that Jacob saw the face of God, and yet his life was spared.  Elsewhere in Scripture, the LORD says that no one will see his face and live (Exodus 33:20)  The New Testament says that it is Jesus Christ who, fully human, is sent as the face of God so that humanity might one day look upon the face of God the Father, On that day, we can look because we are redeemed, forgiven and made holy through Jesus Christ.

It is important that Jacob wrestled.  He wrestled all night, with a pause for short conversation part way through the match.  He was tired and exhausted.  This mysterious man did not win his match against Jacob  In fact, at one point, the man touches the socket of Jacob’s hip so that he might have an advantage.  Yet Jacob continues his wrestling.

He wrestled, before an anxious meeting with a brother in conflict, with whom there was a long, dysfunctional, messy past.  He wrestled as he worried about his future, having sent his family on to meet Esau.

Out of this wrestling match, Jacob desires to know who it is with whom he wrestles.  And he wants a blessing from this man.  He gets the blessing, along with a name change.  “You shall be called Israel, because you struggled with God and with men, and have overcome.”  The covenant is still in tact.

Out of this wrestling, Jacob comes away with the limp.  He is blessed, but this blessing is not perfection.  He struggles on as a blessed man, ready to reconcile with his brother Esau.  Challenged, changed, blessed, transformed.

Today’s gospel story follows last week’s story of Nathanael.  It is the first miracle performed by Jesus in his public ministry, turning the water into wine.  We learn that His power blessed others.   And he saved his best for others.

Jacob:  Out of struggle and difficulty, came a blessing from the one he wrestled
Jesus:  His power blessed others

Stockton Story:  out of struggle, comes a blessing by which we bless others. 

Like Jacob, we might have a limp, we are never going to be a perfect church.   Like Jesus, we should be thinking about others, and how to bless them.  “Do unto others, as you would them do unto you”.

I’d like to share with you an overview of the traditions and events that have emerged in a common calendar year (this list is not all we do, for the record).  As we unpack the state of our union, this document lists some of our seasonal activities, the broad range of people’s that use this space for good, and a brief review of how we structure ourselves, and some potential work that could take place.  Today, the potential is offered simply so that we can pray more intelligently towards our future.


Jacob wrestled.  Stockton has wrestled. 

Jacob walked away with a blessing.  Stockton has been blessed.

Jesus blessed others.  We too should bless others.
ORDINARY TIME (FALL)           Already Scheduled for 2015
 The Church Has Left the Building
   --Sermon Series (Sept. 13-November 8)
    --Leaving the Building (Oct. 24/25):  Each of the Shared Staffing partners will
       host one opportunity (at least):  Titusville, sewing project on Sat. am 10/24,
      Stockton, Operation Christmas Child, Sunday, AM
      Mt. Airy, nursing Home worship, Sunday afternoon,
      Sunday evening combined worship:  Hopewell?
Return of Bible Study (9/11), Choir Rehearsal (9/15) and Sunday School (Sept. 27)
In the works:  10/4 World Communion Sunday Evening Pot Luck and Sacrament with churches from Dilts Easter Sunrise service.  TBD.
10/17  An Evening of Dinner and Opera:   Italian Dinner 6:00-7:30, Opera Project Concert, 7:30-8:30, Dessert, 8:30
            Tickets $20
            Excellent event to get word out
            Benefits mission projects of congregation
11/16-23     Operation Christmas Child Host Site
Other:  Nominating Committee
            Find Leaders for Session/Deacons
            Fill officers (financial secretary, treasurer, etc)
11/29   Hanging of the Greens  9:30am
Christmas Eve, ?8pm? 
Annual Meeting
2/9/16  Shrove Tuesday:  Stockton (in the past, organized by deacons), benefits Mission 
2/10/16  Ash Wednesday Worship
Next five Wednesday evenings, Wednesday Worships during Lent
Holy Week:     --Maundy Thursday (3/24)
                        --Good Friday (3/25\)
                        --Easter Sunrise (3/27)
Picnic Worship  7/3/16
worshipping together at least a second time during summer, possibly more???
Summer Institute
Vacation Bible School
Art Camp
River Churches---currently Kirkpatrick, Lambertville, Mt. Airy, Titusville, Grace,
                               Stockton, informal partners
Offering combined experiences of
Worship:  Wednesdays in Lent, Holy Week
                             Summer Picnic, 2nd gathering
            Learning:  Summer Institute
            Serving:  Church Has Left Building
Esperanza---- Thursday Prayer meeting
                        Sunday worship
Suppers Program:   Third Tuesday of each month
                                    Local chapters located throughout nation, teaching healthy eating
                                    and the importance of social element of eating.
 AA:  Mondays 8-9, Fridays 8:30-9:30

Stockton Elementary School: 
music class Monday am
back up gym class during inclement weather, tues/Thursday
special events (winter and spring concert, guitar concert, occasional assembly)

Opera Project:  rehearsal space, few times a year
Book Club:  1st Saturday of each month
Elders:  leadership board, governing and decision making body for the congregation
Establish direction and watch over membership
ask strategic questions
create budget
 Deacons:  working to nurture friendship, service and compassion
            -- exciting opportunity before them:  food cards, and distribution of funds that
                come from food cards.
 Sunday School teachers: 
            Smaller group of learners which allows emphasis on group interests, such as plays
               and performances.
Possible emerging teams?  
Not yet created, not yet in planning stage
Would ultimately succeed by broadening their work base to include members,
 Friends, partners, and the community at large.
--Side Playground Area Work Team: 
--Youth Room in Basement
                For example, a team could include:  Youth from Stockton Presbyterian, Youth
                from Stockton Community, Grace church youth group, lay leaders from
           --Capital Campaign Team---for 2016
--150th Birthday Party Planning Team for 2017  
 Down the Road:   For Prayerful Consideration
Alternative Worship Time, such as Saturday Night, accompanied by social event
     following worship
Church photographer
Church Historian;  chronicle records, members stories and memories
501 c3 for Jason School
How do we do Administration?

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