Mandarin Sermon Translations

  • Jacob & Esau                   Sept 26, 2021, TLC

    雅各布和以扫                       20219月26日,TLC

    Grace to you and peace from God our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Sustainer.


    This morning’s readings gave us a short glimpse into the long story of Jacob and Esau. But this is not the whole story. So, let’s revise the rest.


    Before the events we just heard about, there’s a story of lentil stew. You might remember it – Jacob was in the kitchen cooking up a big pot of delicious lentil stew when Esau came home from a long day outdoors. Esau was hungry and asked for some stew. Jacob promised him a bowl if Esau would give Jacob his birthright – his place as a firstborn. Esau didn’t think much of it, that’s how hungry he was.


    And now Rebekah and Jacob have completed the coup, and Jacob has also received his father’s blessing that was meant for Esau.


    Well, Esau is not happy with the events and swears to kill Jacob once the mourning period for their father has passed. Their father Isaac, still very much alive, sends Jacob off to see Laban, Rebekah’s brother, to find himself a wife.


    On the way to see Laban Jacob has a dream, and we heard about the dream in today’s readings. God confirms that Jacob is blessed. It’s no longer only the blessing of Isaac, but God makes commitment to follow through with it.


    Well, Jacob journeys on to Laban’s house. Remember what happens next? He falls in love with Laban’s younger daughter Rachel and works for Laban for seven years to marry her. Only, Laban tricks Jacob at the wedding and gives him Leah, the older daughter instead. A week later Jacob gets to marry his beloved Rachel and then works another seven years for Laban.


    During that time, with some trickery and clever decisions, Jacob becomes very wealthy, at his uncle’s expense. When Laban discovers this, Jacob fears for his life and takes off with his family. Turns out Laban isn’t all that angry anyway, but Jacob decides to keep going back home.


    Except Esau is back home, and many years ago he swore to kill Jacob! Jacob is afraid, so very afraid. The night before meeting Esau he goes out by himself, and wrestles with a man, or God, all night long.


    When Jacob finally meets Esau again, he’s still afraid. But Esau’s anger is gone. He comes and embraces his brother, happy to see him after all these years. Jacob offers Esau great gifts to make peace with him, but Esau doesn’t need them and tries to refuse, although finally he relents. Finally, they go their separate ways and Jacob settles down in Succoth. When their father Isaac dies later, the brothers get together in peace and bury him.


    It’s a long story of rebellion, repentance, and reconciliation.


    Reconciliation is such a familiar word to us these days. It’s been talked about a lot over the past few years, especially this summer. And this week we will observe Canada’s first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. But what do we mean when we talk about reconciliation? Jacob and Esau’s story gives us some clues.


    One thing we learn from Jacob is that reconciliation is never the easy way out. Reconciliation means a lot of hard work.


    Jacob knew this. He feared for his life when he was on the way to meet Esau, and for a reason. Reconciliation likely cost him several night’s sleep.


    Jesus knows this too. For Jesus, reconciliation feels like the rough wood of the cross against his back, like the sharp pain of nails going through his hands and feet.


    What could this all mean in the Canadian context? Telling people to let go and move on is not reconciliation. Reconciliation requires work, intentional efforts to move to a different direction. Possibly the hardest part of this is that we do not know what the result will be. We don’t have a clear vision of what life may look like afterwards.


    Yes, reconciliation is hard work. Yet, after the difficult work of reconciliation, there is grace and new life.


    For Jacob, reconciling with his brother was the end of being on the run, end of fearing for his life. He knew no one was after him, so he was able to settle down in peace. For Jesus, death was the only way to resurrection.


    Our lives are interconnected with all those around us, and if we are sharing this piece of land called Canada, we can’t get away from one another. The issue of truth and reconciliation will not go away. But it can turn into a good, beautiful, lifegiving thing.


    Let me tell you a story. A small town of Laird, Saskatchewan, was settled by Lutherans and Mennonites from Europe in the late 1800s. What the settlers didn’t know was that the land they built their houses on had been promised to the Young Chippewan band in the treaty agreement that covered that area, Treaty 6. However, just a few years after the signing of the treaty, the government of Canada forcibly moved the band out of the area and gave the land to new settlers. St. John’s Lutheran Church became a centre of the community. The church building was built on a small hill called Stoney Knoll that had been a sacred place and a burial ground for the Chippewan.

    让我给你们讲个故事。萨斯喀彻温省莱尔德的一个小镇,在19世纪末由来自欧洲的路德会教徒和门诺派教徒而建立。但定居者们所不知道的是,他们建造房屋的土地已经在涉及该地区的条约协议(条约6)中承诺给了年轻的齐佩万乐队。但是,在该条约签署几年后,加拿大政府强行将该乐队迁出该地区,并将土地交给新定居者。圣约翰路德教会成为社区的中心。教堂建筑建在一座名为Stoney Knoll的小山上,这座小山曾是奇普万人的圣地和墓地。

    Back in the 1970s and 80s, there were tensions in the small town when some of the Chippewan came into town to announce that the land belonged to them. Most people in town didn’t like that too much. However, someone from the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) heard about this and started to investigate the records. And so, it was – according to the treaty agreement, the land belonged to the band! Nothing happened until in the early 2000s when the MCC got in touch with the Young Chippewan band council to talk about the situation.


    In 2006, the Young Chippewan band invited the residents of Laird for a celebration on Stoney Knoll. Most residents were suspicious. What could this mean? Would the band demand to get back the land? Would it be safe to go to the celebration? Would anyone even go?


    Yet, most of the community turned up. And it was a feast! There was food, and music, and dancing, and simply being together and getting to know one another. There was an acknowledgement of history, of what had happened. There was an acknowledgement of the current state of matters – the people living in the community did not drive anyone away from the land, it was all government’s doing.


    But most importantly, there was reconciliation. There was a sense of coming together, of getting to know one another. Both sides had been worried and afraid before the celebration, but afterwards, there were friendships. When people got to know each other, they realized there’s nothing to be afraid of.


    The work of reconciliation continues in Laird, Saskatchewan. The descendants of settlers have raised funds for the Young Chippewan band to pursue their claims for compensation with the Canadian government. The communities have worked together to establish Chippewan genealogies – this is especially important because their previous claims for compensation were denied on the grounds that there was no one left of the band!


    The calls to reconciliation can make us uneasy because we worry about what we might lose. Jacob worried about that too. He was afraid for his family, and for his life. I suspect Jesus worried about it too. It’s easy to look at what we have, and what we might lose. It’s more difficult to see what we might gain.


    The good news is that God has already reconciled us to God’s self. It’s been done. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God has done everything that was necessary to save this world. And while we live in a world that continues to be a cruel place, we hold on to the promise that God has it all figured out.


    And we hold on to God’s promise to be with us, each day. God has called you to be a peacemaker, to represent the Kingdom of God on earth. The work of reconciliation is part of this call. And God has promised to bless the work you do, has promised to give you an abundant life.


    Amen. 阿门。

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