August 13, 2023: Reflections

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost


Scripture: Romans 10:11-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b; Matthew 14:22-33

Reverend Dr. Tom Tift

  • Prelude: “He Leadeth Me! O Blessed Thought,” music by William B. Bradbury (1864), arr. by Eric Lewis; Pauline Olsen, organ
    © 2005 Lorenz Publishing Company
    ONE LICENSE #A-741127
  • Introit – Hymn 3185: Send Us your Spirit,”, by Dan Schutte; Trinity Singers
    © 1985 Daniel L. Schutte and New Dawn Music
    ONE LICENSE #A-741127
  • Hymn 71: “Glory Be to the Father (Gloria Patri),” music by Henry W. Greatorex, 1851
  • Hymn 152: “I Sing the Almighty Power of God,” trad. tune, arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1906), words by Isaac Watts (1715)
  • Hymn 2140: ““Since Jesus Came Into My Heart,” music by Charles H. Gabriel, words by R. H. McDaniel
  • Offertory: ““In the Silence of this Moment,” music by Franklin Ritter; Pauline Olsen, organ
    © 2007 Lorenz Publishing Company
    ONE LICENSE #A-741127
  • Hymn 95: “Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow”, words by Thomas Ken, 1674, music attr. to Louis Bourgeois, 1551
  • Special Music: “He Touched Me,” by William J. Gaither; Patty Shoop, vocal
    © 1964 William J. Gaither, Inc.
    CCLI #2564464
  • Readings from Scripture: Romans 10:11-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b; Matthew 14:22-33; Jim Stoffer
  • Sermon: “Reflections,” Reverend Tom Tift
  • Hymn 569: “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations,” music by H. Ernest Nichol (1896), words by H. Ernest Nichol (1896)
  • Benediction Hymn 2175: “Together We Serve,” by Daniel Charles Damon
    © 1998, Hope Publishing Company
    ONE LICENSE #A-741127
  • Postlude: “The Whole Armor of God,” music by Todd Kendall; Pauline Olsen, organ
    © 2007 Lorenz Publishing Company
    ONE LICENSE #A-741127


Scripture: Genesis 33:1-10

Genesis 33:10 Jacob said, “No, please; if I find favor with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God—since you have received me with such favor.

I. Reflections

  1. Looking out from my porch across a small lake on a beautiful, still morning, I saw the reflection of a magnificent tree, so detailed and clear you might think you could walk out to it on the water and climb in its branches.
  2. A reflection can’t exist without the actual object
  3. The reflection is not the real object (A strong gust of wind or passing cloud could distort the reflection or blot it out altogether.)
  4. When conditions are just right, the reflection creates a perfect, breath-taking image

II. Jacob and Esau

  1. Twins, but not identical! (Esau grows up big and hairy, Jacob a more “indoors-y” type
  2. “Jacob” can be translated as “trickster”
  3. Jacob, the younger twin, ends up with Esau’s birthright AND the all important blessing of their father Jacob
  4. Jacob has to flee from the wrath of Esau and spends many years away from home
  5. Jacob has 12 sons by 4 women, the sons whose families will become the 12 tribes of Israel

III. Going home

  1. God tells Jacob to take his family and his vast possessions and return home
  2. Jecob is terrified to face his big, strong, hairy, furious brother Esau
  3. Jacob sends Esau gifts just before he arrives
  4. Jacob arrives to find Esau with 400 men—Jacob is really scared now!

IV. Surprise! Surprise!

  1. Esau greets Jacob with a big hug and tears of joy
  2. Jacob receives what he DOES NOT deserve—GRACE
  3. Jacob says to Esau: to see your face is like seeing the face of God

V. What this story means for us

  1. Ephesians 5:1, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children …” (We are called to be imitators—REFLECTIONS—of God and of Jesus, to be “little Esau’s.)
  2. We are the reflection, Jesus is the real thing
  3. On our worst days, our reflections of God may become distorted or not even visible
  4. In our best moments, we can produce magnificent reflections of God’s love and patience and forgiveness (magnificently like the tree on the lake, like Esau) to those around us

VI. Final thoughts

  1. Ephesians 4:31, “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice”
  2. Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you”
  3. “Let others see Jesus in you”
  4. Our world needs godly reflections, and we can make that happen!
Romans 10:05-15
Romans 10:05-15