“The Magnificent Defeat” in Thomas G. Long and Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., eds. A Chorus of Witnesses

Buechner, Frederick

Eerdmans, 1994

p. 10

“The Magnificent Defeat” is a sermon from Genesis 32 about Jacob at the ford of the Jabbok River.  Jacob is on the threshold of a meeting with his brother Esau after years of estrangement.  Because he caused the estrangement, Jacob isn’t sleeping well the night before the reunion, and especially because he has to wrestle all night with a mysterious stranger.  When dawn breaks enough for Jacob to see the stranger’s face, what he sees, says Buechner, is “something more terrible than the face of death—the face of love.  It is vast and strong, half ruined with suffering and fierce with joy, the face a man flees down all the darkness of his days until at last he cries out, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’”