In this story, Jacob responds to God’s free gift with fear and awe, worship, and a concrete gift: the tithe. The tithe is ten percent of one’s income, and it is how congregations have traditionally funded their pastors, church buildings, and mission. Of course, being Jacob his gift is conditional (if God does this, then I’ll do that); it is a marked contrast to God’s unconditional generosity.
- READ: Genesis 28:10-22 (Year A Proper 11)
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
The Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first.
Then Jacob promised, saying, “If God will stay with me, and will keep me on the road, and will give me bread to eat and clothes to wear, so that I come back to my homeland peacefully, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone shall be God’s house, and of all that you give me, God, I will give one tenth back to you.” (Genesis 28:10-22)
- REFLECT: What word or phrase jumps out? What do you think God’s messengers look like? What messages might they carry?
- RELATE: What are some of the gifts that God has given you? What gifts have you offered in return? How does your household give money away? To whom, and why? Talk about it.
- RESPOND: Is God calling you to any practical response now? Pray about it, then act.
- REPORT: If you or your household do take action, text or email a photo of that action to Sanctuary with a brief explanation. We can use it during the service or, with your permission, add it to the Facebook page.
- RELAX: For older children, teens and adults: You might like to watch Pay It Forward. When someone gives without expectation of return, what happens?
Cartalk / Tabletalk © Sanctuary, 2020. Year A Proper 11.
Cartalk / Tabletalk
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