Jacob Wrestles God by Chaplain Dwight

Recently, I started a character study. I’m continuing with Jacob as he is a fascinating one. The Bible has a wonderful way of presenting all the heroes of the faith—flaws and all. Jacob is, in many ways, the father of Israel (his sons are the heads of the 12 tribes).

Jacob Wrestles God — Genesis 32 One of my favorite Scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6. It exhorts us to trust in the Lord and not to lean on our own understanding. This is a constant battle for us, and certainly for Jacob. God delights in taking the self-reliant (Moses, Peter, Paul, etc., etc.) and humbling them (us) so they (we) could be of greater use.

Genesis 32 is Jacob’s greatest struggle and his finest hour. He begins the chapter as Jacob, the self-reliant schemer facing a return to his homeland and a confrontation with Esau. He ends the chapter with a new name, a new limp, and a greater understanding of dependence on God.

At the beginning of the chapter, Jacob ignores an early sign from God (v1), prays to God out of fear (“save me…for I am afraid, v 11), and implements a plan to pacify Esau. This plan leaves him alone, separated from his family and his possessions. (v 24).

At his darkest hour, he begins a lengthy wrestling match with “a man.” Jacob holds on for dear life, asking for a Blessing. He is asked his name. This is basically a confession, because Jacob means “heel catcher, deceiver” Now, Jacob cries out for a change. And he gets it. His name is changed to Israel, “God’s fighter,” or “He struggles with God.” Really, God would now fight for Israel. The new nation that Jacob heads must also rely on God to fight for them.

Jacob names the place Peniel, because he had seen the face of God and been spared. His limp would be a constant reminder to trust in the Lord, and not to lean on his own understanding. How are you doing with that struggle? Trust God with your situation, whatever it is.

I Found Peace Again

My Love for Brill Chapel started almost as soon as I moved into Epworth Villa, when fellow Resident, Jimette invited me to join the choir. I was somewhat adrift in regard to my allegiance to a church, because my long time and beloved home church was in the throes of dissolution and I felt disconnected. When I became familiar with Brill and started singing in the choir, I found that peace again, that comes with knowing you have a spiritual home.

I took the course offered on the beautiful and meaningful stained glass windows and celebrated even more cause to feel the peace of this lovely place in my new home. I felt part of Epworth and the choir and the enjoyment of Brill almost immediately, and was so pleased to add this new dimension to my life.

Jacob & God by Chaplain Dwight

Last week, I started a character study. I’m continuing with Jacob as he is a fascinating one. The Bible has a wonderful way of presenting all the heroes of the faith—flaws and all. Jacob is, in many ways, the father of Israel (his sons are the heads of the 12 tribes).

Put yourself in Jacob’s shoes (Genesis 28.) He is most likely exhausted from 4-5 days of travel: alone, away from family for the first time. Esau’s death threat ringing in his ears, facing an uncertain future in a foreign land. He desperately needs to be assured of God’s presence and grace – and that is exactly what he gets. Dreaming of a ladder into heaven, Jacob receives a simple reminder that God is present. He is not an aloof God, but one who is involved with His creation.

For the first time, Jacob listens to God. God promises that even with Jacob’s history of deceit, the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant belonged to him. To top it off, God promises protection and a safe return home. Jacob’s response? In a word, WORSHIP. Jacob sets up a memorial stone and names the place Bethel (House of God): committing himself to God and vowing if God would do as He promised, Jacob would enter a covenant with Him. I think this is not a bargaining session. “If” could also be translated, “since.” Since God promises these things, Jacob is devoted to Him. With faith starting right here in Bethel, Abraham and Isaac’s God is now Jacob’s God. Faith is a personal reality.

Some of my greatest experiences with God are when I am at my lowest point. Think back to what God has done for you. Thank Him for His grace, His presence, His assurance in your life. And remember, He is there with you with whatever you face today.

I’m a Believer -Linda L.

A couple of years ago, I kicked up my exercise routine to a higher level but did not change my eating habits.  A previous cholesterol test was borderline elevated and the doctor recommended either exercise or take a pill.  I opted for the exercise.  A repeat test, about six months ago, indicated that my cholesterol was lower than it had been in the past 20 years!  And my recent bone density showed improvement as well.  I’m a believer!

Jacob & Esau by Chaplain Dwight

This week, I’m starting character studies and Jacob is a fascinating one. The Bible has a wonderful way of presenting all the heroes of the faith—flaws and all. Jacob is, in many ways, the father of Israel (his sons are the heads of the 12 tribes).

The Scripture reading (Gen 25:19-34) highlights the beginning of Jacob’s relationship with his twin brother Esau—not one of his finer moments. Jacob and Esau were far from identical. Jacob means “cheater, heel grabber.” He is Mom’s favorite. He was gentle and stays at home to help. Esau is the red headed hunter, Isaac’s (Dad’s) favorite.

Jacob lived up to his name by maneuvering to get the birthright from Esau for a bowl of stew, and later, with the help of his mother—Rebekah, stole the family blessing. Now, if you look further in the story, Jacob paid for these actions. He fled for his life, and spent almost a lifetime estranged from his brother Esau. Following suit, Jacob’s own children mistreat his beloved youngest son, Joseph, and then lied to Jacob (Israel) about Joseph’s death when they sold him into slavery. It is a good read if you like mysteries, love stories, tragedy, adventure and is full of life lessons and God’s blessings

Seeing the sibling rivalry between these brothers makes me grateful for my close relationship with my two older brothers. We have always had a great relationship. They were groomsmen in my wedding. We have never had a serious fight or estrangement in our relationship. Take time to reflect on your relationship with your brothers or sisters. Be thankful for them. Talk about them with others. If you need to reconcile, please do so.

A New Perspective

By Roberta Maloney

I moved to Epworth Villa seven and a half years ago following the loss of my husband after almost 50 years of wonderful marriage. On my first night here, I was sitting in my cottage feeling desperately alone and unhappy. It was after 11pm when I had this inspiration to take a walk over to the main building. As I wandered down the hall, I came to the Brill Chapel which, to my surprise was lighted and open. Feeling welcome, I went in, took a seat, and spent some time allowing my eyes to travel around the beautiful surroundings. I looked up at the cross on the window and told the Lord how much I appreciated His guiding me to this wonderful spot. I talked with Him and asked Him to pass my thoughts on to my husband. It was amazing to me how comforted I felt. In the following years, I made a regular habit of visiting with the Lord in the chapel and do so today. My religion since childhood has been Catholic, but I must say participating in the services at Epworth has given me a huge respect for a variety of other faiths. I’ve learned that no matter what we call ourselves, we all worship the same God, and Brill Chapel is a wonderful place in which to do it.

Epworth Interviews

Enjoy this interview with Resident Dr. Herman Reece. This interview was created by our Epworth Villa Resident Council Executive Team. At Epworth Villa, we have the most interesting Residents! #thrivingtogether

Dr. Herman Reece

Epworth Interviews

The Executive Team of the Epworth Villa Resident Council created a number of Resident Interviews. The first interview is with Cathy Nichols with some interesting history from Alaska!

Cathy Nichols


With social distancing and being in worship as a community taking a new twist during the Covid-19 quarantine, Epworth Villa residents and Chaplains have become creative.

The altar at Brill Chapel has for over 15 years been traditional with a cross, bible, 2 candles, and paraments reflecting the season of the Christian Year; that is until social distancing became cause to think outside the box.

With no more than ten allowed to gather and six feet of spacing between seating, the chapel became a 24/7 place of personal worship, meditation, and prayer. Residents and staff have been witnessed in the chapel as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as 11:30 p.m.  Marsha Purtell, Epworth Chaplain, and Wilma Reppert, resident and Chair of Religious Life of the Resident Association, worked as a team using scriptures from the lectionary to plan, design, and implement weekly re-design of the altar area to give visual appeal to the selected scripture posted on a separate table located at the Chapel entry.  Music plays in the background to give a peaceful and meaningful experience to individuals who want to spend time in the chapel.  The chapel is regularly cleaned and sanitized.

Virtual Vespers and Sunday School services are broadcast weekly throughout the campus to all levels of care on Epworth Villa’s closed-circuit TV (EVTV).  Residents can tune in and participate from the comfort of their living rooms. Guest speakers and teachers have done an excellent job sharing from an empty room knowing the nearly 400 residents can tune in to be spiritually fed.

Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, became especially meaningful as each resident was provided with individually bagged cup and host for communion.  Because the residents could participate in their homes with the clergy on the EVTV screen, it is estimated 80 to 85% of the residents participated.

Though the altar reflecting the scriptures began with Lent and was changed several times during Holy Week, having the altar reflect the weekly scriptures has become our “new normal.”  Residents are contributing to the décor with flowers, special crosses, worship cloths, scarves, little lambs etc.  It has become fun and inspiring to see the weekly changes in the worship center and the setting has become a blessing for all who choose to participate.