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The meeting of Jacob and Esau — Tissot

Today’s Bible reading

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. – Matthew 5:13

More thoughts for meditation

Salt gives flavor. In Jesus’ time, it was also the primary preservative of food. Jesus invites us not to rot and to have a full life, robust in flavor. As we make major life transitions – those we choose and those we do not, there are frequently issues from our past relationships or work experiences that seem unresolved. They cause us to “lose our salt” – we are inhibited from bringing our unique flavor to what is next. The things weighing on us may hold us back from the new life calling to us. So we are looking at inner struggles today: hurts, failures, errors and the guilt, regret, shame, resentment and other feelings that often accompany them.

The stories of Jacob (Genesis 33:1-11) and Jesus (Luke 15:11-32) both have stories of forgiveness in the middle of them. The forgiveness of Esau for his usurper brother Jacob may have the most to say to us, since they were in a conflicted intimate relationship, like many of us are. When Jacob dares to return home after years of trouble and transformation he is met by a brother who long before had decided to forgive him. This was a healing moment he totally did not expect. Esau reflects the father in Jesus’ story of the prodigal son who was looking down the road waiting for his child to return. Are you carrying resentments, haunted by unredressed injustice, or saddled with guilt for what you have done? These are likely to come up when transition calls us over a new threshold. They need to be touched by forgiveness.

We all carry baggage with us on the journey. It is a little simplistic to put it this way, but we need to open up the suitcases, look clearly at the contents, offer these painful circumstances to God, and receive deep release – then let go or make amends, as possible, and move on. It is tempting to hang on to a hurtful experience, overlay it with emotional responses that create patterns thinking and behavior, come to a place where we can name the issue, and then get stuck in self-criticism for having the issue and not getting over it. Where there is trauma, damaging patterns from the family, or mental illness, the journey can be long. But Jesus is a healer. If we can manage to trust the Lord for our future and not condemn ourselves to creating some perfect self on our own, we can be healed.

In 1 Corinthians 5:16-21 Paul has a variation on the salt of the earth theme. He says, in Christ the old has passed away and everything is new. God’s love compels us to be reconciled with our Creator and others. The sin is being undone by forgiveness! God forgives us and we forgive ourselves. As a result, we find new life as reconcilers in the world – which feels good.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Help me forgive myself and others as you have forgiven me, so I don’t lose my salt.

Think about the transition you are in or consider your place on your spiritual journey.

1) What baggage from the past do you bring into the current journey? Something to confess? People you need to contact? Are you ready for some kind of ritual release? Can you let go of hurts you have inflicted or endured? Jesus is willing to heal.

2) Are there roads not taken that you now regret? Can you accept the modified results of your choices? Or do you need to release the regret over your poor choice?  Jesus has forgiven you already.

3) Think over these terms and see if any regrets and hurts surface: Family, church, environment, friends, choices, work, the world. Are you carrying things, maybe some that just became conscious, that inhibit you? Jesus is preparing a way for you.

4) Would one of these ways toward healing be best suited for where you are right now?

  • Seek counseling. Trauma and family issues often benefit from a process with a skilled therapist. If you want inner healing, even if you don’t know why, this would be a good route to take. Circle Counseling has skilled therapists.
  • Enter into prayer. Center in on love and open the bags. Write down your experiences and discoveries.
  • Visit Jesus at the well (John 4:1-26). In your imaged prayer sit with Jesus, who knows all about you, and pour out your heart. Be understood and receive living water.
  • Let your cell pray for you. You can tell them your issue or just let them pray for your healing.
  • Have a time of formal confession, reconciliation with God and release with your pastor or spiritual director. They may have a ritual they use; you may want to ask for one that seems right to you.