Sermon on Genesis 28:10-19a for Pentecost +7 A, July 23, 2017
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went towards 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. And 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;
I heard a scientist talking about how important sleep is for us, specifically for the brain. Apparently all kinds of important organization and clutter control takes place while we sleep. He mentioned that our large brains that gave us the ability to out-think, and therefore, out-survive other primate groups, came at a high cost. They consume an enormous amount of energy. And the fact that they require so much sleep leaves us vulnerable for hours at a time.
It is interesting that Jacob’s first encounter with God takes place when he is vulnerably sleeping. When you sleep, your defenses are down, you cannot play games. Jacob had a lot of defenses, and played a lot of games.