Another Sunday — Sojourn III

This entry is part of my series on my on-going “church journey” that I’ll be documenting as it takes place. You can read about other visits with the “journey” tag.

The Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau, as in Ge...

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I guess there are a couple of different directions I could go with this post about this past Sunday. I could talk about the lesson that I taught the kids at Sojourn. Or I could talk about the experience of teaching the kids.

The lesson was about forgiveness, and was rooted in the story of Jacob and Esau. It started much later in the story than people often do, not with Esau selling Jacob his birthright for a bowl of stew, or with Jacob tricking Isaac to receive his blessing, but with Jacob deciding to return home after fleeing his brother’s wrath. The story was about Esau’s willingness to forgive Jacob, and encouraged kids to have the same attitude of forgiveness.

But I was more intrigued by the part we didn’t talk about. Esau’s apparently short-sightedness, to sell his birthright, to sell his future fortune for a bowl of stew. The curriculum used the term “birthright and blessing.” And as easy as it is to criticize Esau for that, I wonder how often we do that ourselves; how often we exchange a blessing that God has planned for us down the right for something much less in value but much more immediate.

And how many times do we not even have to sell our blessings? How many times do we not even get the benefit of trading them for something of lesser value, because we are afraid to claim them? Because we don’t trust that what God has planned for us is really worth having, and don’t pursue it? Or because we let fear prevent us from accepting his gifts?

That said, throwing a complete monkey wrench in that thought process is this — When Jacob was returning home, he was afraid that Esau was still mad at him, possibly still murderously so. So he sent peace offerings, animals from his herds, in hopes of winning Esau’s favor and forgiveness. When Jacob finally arrived, however, Esau returned the gifts.

Because he didn’t need them.

Esau was doing just fine. Even having sold his birthright and blessing, he had amassed enough on his own that he had no need for his brother’s gifts. Maybe he didn’t have as much as he would have, or maybe he did. But either way, he had enough. And he got the stew. I would love for someone wiser than I to tell me the message we’re supposed to learn from that.

OK, that’s the content part of it. The presentation part? This Sunday was one of the hardest I’ve had in months. The kids had no interest in paying attention. And I don’t entirely know why. I don’t know what I did differently, or what I should have done differently. I know that there was one kid in particular who was so disruptive that he disrupted it for everybody. But I have no idea what I should have done about it. Sigh.

Next week — I think I’m going to be at Southside Baptist. Barring anything changing between now and Sunday. Which is entirely possible.

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