Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

Genesis 32:22-31 and Psalm 17:1-7, 15
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:13-21

Have you ever felt you have seen the Face of God?

Now before you start asking, 'what do you mean, the Face of God?', let us say...we are not really sure ourselves.

Maybe the question is better stated, Have you ever felt you were in the direct and obvious presence of God?
Certainly there are many examples where folks talk about seeing the Face of God in everyone they encounter, in those they serve, in the homeless, in the sick, in children, etc. And maybe that is as close as any of us ever get.

But we are wondering about something a little more dramatic and cosmic...have you ever experienced the Face of God?

In the is week's passage from Genesis Jacob names a physical location Peniel (the face of God) and says, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved." This happens after he has a fantastic struggle with an unidentified man all through the night. As day is breaking, Jacob asks the man for a blessing and the man says, "You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed." Yup...this is where Israel was born, right here...without this moment there are no Israelites, no Israel. Jacob saw the face of God and his name and destiny were changed.

If you have read much of our stuff at all you know we really dig the writer(s) of the Psalms. If there ever was anyone who really connected and saw the Face of God, it was her / him. Here in the 15th verse of Psalm 17 we see the bold statement of a hope, a dream, and maybe a reality:
"As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness."

In the passage we have from Paul's letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome, we see a guy who had seen the Face of God and was still working out something of an internal struggle. He is a Jew...for a while he was an Uber Jew...who is now a guy who has seen the Face of God in a blinding light and is now having to struggle with the understanding he has of his Israelite heritage on one hand and his personal and intimate knowledge of God and and through Jesus on the other. And as a Jew, he's been grounded in an understanding that the God of the past is concerned and will act in the future. So if Jesus is the Messiah, and Jews reject this, is God still with his covenant people? Sometimes Paul sounds like he thinks this is the case. From a perspective of 2000 years later, we think maybe Paul saw God and could only understand his here and now. We get that.

And then we get one of the great Jesus / disciple interactions in the passage from Matthew. The folks of the area around the Sea of Gallilee were following Jesus around and wanting to get close to him to hear his teaching and be healed, and there was a constant resource question--with all of these people sitting around all day listening to teachings, how do they get fed? The disciples want to send the folks home, and Jesus wants the disciples to feed them. They give him a sheepish look and start pulling food out of their baskets. Imagine being the disciples after this happens. Certainly, leading up to this point they had experienced a wide range of stuff that gave them insight that Jesus was someone special. But this really pushed the envelope. Jesus made food show up from nowhere! It seems that after that moment, they had to be aware they had been looking in to the Face of God.

Have you seen the face of God? Did it leave you limping?

Bruise me,
blind me,
baffle me God.
I want to be
by seeing you.

© matt & laura norvell 2011 www.settingourstones.org we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.

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