Wrestling with Our Hunger

The Path of the Disciple: Searching for the Face of God

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

Worship this week can be a reminder that we are seeking the face of God when we gather but also when we scatter. Our hunger for God is not only met when we gather for worship but also when we are at work, when we are in fellowship, when we engage in conversations and build relationships, when we serve and love as we are sent to do.

This final part of our summer series is in some ways a pinnacle. The community that gathers for worship is reminded that we are indeed following a God who is at work in the world. We are seeking signs of God’s presence as we live and work in a hurting yet beautiful world around us. There is no more difficult but joyous exercise than that.

Whether you call them “God-sightings” or “glory moments,” being alert to the presence of God is a fundamental requirement for the disciple. Some might even argue these discovery moments keep us going on the pathway to discipleship. This series will provide an opportunity to share those moments and has not sightings with the children and their families as their summer winds down and they prepare for going back to school.

What this series did not do, however, was lay out a specific plan for your local church to design its intentional discipleship system. It can’t. Each community must find a path that fits its context and uses the gifts of the people and the leadership of the local congregation. If you have a plan in place, then this summer has been a boost to keeping folks going in that process. If you don’t have such a plan and need help getting going, then here is a good place to start: seeallthepeople.org. There are tools and guidance here to help any congregation take seriously the call to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” There are free downloads of an intentional discipleship system for children on the site. This past annual conference season, we also provided a Spanish translation for the children’s intentional discipleship system.

Throughout this series, reinforce the children going back to school by using objects related to both the weekly message and items that children will need to provide a smooth return to school. Use this opportunity to pray for returning teachers and other school-related concerns. This would be an excellent opportunity to incorporate “Blessings in a Backpack” or other programs.

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost - Wrestling with Our Hunger

Genesis 32:24-29, NIRV

24 So Jacob was left alone. A man wrestled with him until morning. 25 The man saw that he couldn’t win. So, he touched the inside of Jacob’s hip. As Jacob wrestled with the man, Jacob’s hip was twisted. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go. It is morning.”

But Jacob replied, “I won’t let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will not be Jacob anymore. Instead, it will be Israel. You have wrestled with God and with people. And you have won.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you want to know my name?” Then he blessed Jacob there.

New International Reader's Version (NIRV) Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

School object:



One night, something very strange happened to Jacob. A man came up to him, began to wrestle him, and even ended up hurting Jacob’s hip. The Bible doesn’t say who the man was or why he chose to wrestle Jacob. Somehow Jacob sensed that God was present in this stranger. Jacob insisted that the man promise good things for Jacob’s future. Maybe the man wasn’t a man at all, but an angel instead. Do you think that it could have been an angel? (Allow children to respond.) The man blessed Jacob and gave him a new name. The name was Israel. Have you heard that name before? Why “Israel”? God’s chosen people would be named after him!

Do you think others ever wrestle with God? Have you ever wrestled with God? (Allow children to answer.) We might wrestle with God when we feel angry at God about something. We might wrestle with God when we sense that God is trying to speak to us, but we don’t want to listen. Can you give another example of when we might wrestle with God? (Allow children to share.)

Wrestling with God is tiring. God is much stronger than we are. When you find yourself in a struggle with God, remember Jacob and do what he did. Ask God for a blessing. You may find that the struggle was God’s way of making you change into a better person.

Today, we are nearing the end of summer vacation. Most of us are making plans to return to school. Have your parents purchased your school supplies yet? (Hold up the backpack.) Have you gotten one of these yet? A backpack is a wonderful thing to have when returning to school because it can hold all your school supplies. In the next few weeks, I will have an item to place in the backpack that will help us remember our Bible story each week.

This backpack can also contain EVEN more than school supplies. Have you ever heard of “Blessings in a Backpack”? (Forty-four states and Washington D.C. have a “Blessings in a Backpack” program. If your state doesn’t have an active program, find a creative way to incorporate information about the program in your message.) (Allow children to answer.) Did you know that NINE MILLION CHILDREN are experiencing food insecurity? That’s one in eight American children who may be struggling with finding food. (Count off seven children, and then mention that the next child would be one in eight.) “Blessings in a Backpack” gives individuals the opportunity to place food items in backpacks for children to take home over the weekend to provide food for their families.

As Jacob “wrestled” with God, which could have made him angry for the situation he was in, he also asked God for a blessing. Afterward, God changed him into a better person. If we provide food supplies and place them in backpacks, we can see God at work in our lives and show others God’s love.

This week, I invite your family to provide food items to fill a backpack. Find an opportunity to become involved with “Blessings in a Backpack.”


God, you come to me in so many ways. Help me to see how you are present with me even in tough times. Help me always to look and to ask for your blessings. Amen.

In This Series...

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes


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In This Series...

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes