Despicable me, despicable you, despicable Jacob – Sermon for Sept. 22, Narrative Lectionary

Sept. 22

Kids Sermon –  Despicable Me” –

[Chorus – Pharrell Williams]

Im having a bad bad day

its about time that I get my way

steam rolling whatever i see, huh

despicable me

Im having a bad bad day

if you take it personal thats ok,

watch this is so fun to see, huh

despicable me

 

Who says cartoons aren’t educational?  From the modern movie soundtrack we just heard a couple of moments ago to Daffy Ducks, “Your despicable!” Where else could we learn such big words.  Where else, ok well maybe at worship?

 

So what does despicable mean?  what its Definition?  How would you define it? 

Mean, rotten, dirty, no-good.  perhaps it would be better if we didn’t name any names, you know as examples.  Did you know it comes from the word despise?  It can mean deserving to be despised.

 

And to despise something or someone is to: regard with it or him or her with  contempt, distaste, disgust, or disdain; scorn; loathe.

 

Now you probably didn’t wake up this morning and look forward to coming to worship to hear and learn about some despicable character.  After all, we see and hear of plenty of them day in and day out.  We probably even know a few, sometimes you may even feel that way about yourself.   But to have one of the one of the big three– Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The big three that we will hear about next week–you know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  To hear him referred to as despicable?  Well let’s see.

 

Can we describe Jacob as a despicable guy? He’s opportunistic, prior to our reading for today he had already taken advantage of his older twin’s, Esau’s hunger, getting him to bargain away his birthright, his inheritance for a meal.  So before or reading for today, Jacob had already secured his future with wealth and material goods.  But when there’s more to be had, there’s more to be taken.  So with the  prompting and coaching of his dear sweet mother, Jacob lies to and deceives his ailing father.  Incorrigible and despicable if you ask me.  Stealing the last thing this old man could possibly give, his blessing, the passing on of his power, his mojo.  And in that world, once its gone, it’s gone. Once it’s out there, it can’t be taken back.  Yeah, Jacob. . . He is one dirty, rotten, scoundrel.

 

It should then be no surprise that Jacob would have trouble sleeping, would have dreams.  We could only hope that his conscience would catch up with him.  But that’s not exactly what happens.  Fleeing his older brother, on his way to his uncles’ to get a wife or two, Jacob spends the night with a rock for a pillow, falling  asleep he dreams a vision of a ladder stretching from earth to heaven, with God’s messengers hard at work going up and down.  Then The Lord speaks to Jacob, not from up those stairs, but right next to him, at his level so to speak. And what does The Lord do?  Does The Lord reprimand? Does The Lord correct? Does The Lord condemn the rascal at his feet? Nope.  The Lord promises Jacob children galore, and the very land he is resting on.  It’s The very same promise made to his grandfather Abraham.

 

I don’t know about you, but it almost seems as if God’s got a really poor sense of judgement with these guys.  Or perhaps maybe, God’s just not got that good of a pool to work with.  But it sure seems like The Lord God doesn’t do what the label we’ve been using and tossing about all morning.  The Lord doesn’t despise Jacob.  Instead God’s going to use him, use his family to bring blessings to all her children.

 

And before we try to wiggle God out of this one.  This isn’t a case of you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.  No Jacob’s been wrestling with his brother since before they were born.. And it’s not like Jacob saw the light, so to speak.  It was just a ladder, not light.  Meaning  he doesn’t exactly straighten up and become an upright and model young man.  He will trick his future father-in-law.  And he will continue the family tradition of favoritism, loving one wife more than the other, and loving her children more than his others.

 

Now learning about these guys like Jacob, and well pretty much just about the rest of these people that God works with in the bible isn’t supposed to tell us that it doesn’t matter what we do.  These guys are not necessarily models of behavior for us to emulate and put on some pedestal.  No, when you really look at them, they are just like you and me.

 

We can not idolize these Biblical characters, but nor can we dismiss them.  Just as we should not be dismissed either.  Instead we are here to be honest, terribly, even brutally honest about our faults, our sins, our weaknesses–how we cheat, steal, how we judge others,

 

These are the things that in worship, with you, with one another we can confess.  You know this is one of the best ways to erase that big excuse for not coming to church.  You know the one,where someone says he or she doesn’t go to church because we are a bunch of hypocrites.  A hypocrite, is someone who points their finger at others, and never admits their own guilt.  Well that’s not what’s going on here.  Nope.  We admit, we confess, we embrace our sin, our fallenness, our imperfections, our addictions, our hatreds, our unforgiving hearts, our prejudices, our ignorance, and more.  Because we are no better than anyone else.

The thing is God doesn’t despise Jacob, and God does not despise, you or me, doesn’t despise even the folks who never ever make it here on a Sunday morning. God’s not in the business of calling us names like the rest of the world, so when we are at ooir lowest, maybe even feeling downright despicable,God’s got different vocabulary for us–these are the words we should always use as church, these are the words we should know deep down in our hearts, and they are: forgiven, beloved son and daughter of God.

 

God is making a promise to us, and we deserve it as much as Jacob, but that doesn’t mean the promise isn’t real.  God’s promise is to use us to bless this world.  God’s promise is to be with us no matter what.  And brothers and sisters, there’s nothing despicable about that.  Amen.

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