Grace to you
and peace from God our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Sustainer.
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.
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
Rebekah and Jacob have completed the coup, and Jacob has also received his
father’s blessing that was meant for 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
reconciliation is hard work. Yet, after the difficult work of reconciliation,
there is grace and new life.
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
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
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.