Wednesday, March 14, 2012
When the report was heard in Pharaoh's house, “Joseph's brothers have come,” it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your beasts and go back to the land of Canaan, and take your father and your households, and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you shall eat the fat of the land.’ And you, Joseph, are commanded to say, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. Have no concern for your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’”
The sons of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey. To each and all of them he gave a change of clothes, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five changes of clothes. To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provision for his father on the journey. Then he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the way.”
So they went up out of Egypt and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. And they told him, “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them. But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. And Israel said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.” Genesis 45:16-28
Almost all families I have encountered have had falling outs, separations, arguments small and large, that over time have become great chasms and no one knows how to restore these. Parents and children hide their broken hearts. Siblings ache to see each other again but have no idea how or where to begin. When there has been violence, deception, greed and abuse thrown in, restoration seems impossible. In the ancient stories and in our times, God finds ways for us to be mended and restored.
Joseph had been sold into slavery by his jealous, angry brothers. They were going to kill him but the travelers intervened and they got rid of their problem with money in their pockets. Unforgivable, cruel behavior, from men who were supposedly faithful and righteous. In the course of time, Joseph becomes Pharaoh's right hand man and saves the land from starvation by planning ahead and listening to God. Then, at his door step he finds his brothers, the ones who should die for their abuse and treachery, and yet compassion finds a way into his heart. This great story of redemption and restoration is for all of us, even today. We live in broken, scattered families and communities. And God's activity was and is to bring us together, to restore the love, faithfulness and the compassion that was once our gift, that was once the symbol of who were are in this world.
Today I pray for all people and their families, however scattered, broken, hurt, deceived and isolated we might be. God promise to Jacob, that he would see his son, is God's promise and activity to all of us. Whatever has kept us from being whole, God's mission and mercy is to revive and restore love and compassion. May we who are blessed with love and compassion in our lives today, do all in our power to feed and encourage those who are so lost and far from home.