When we look at the family tree of the patriarchs, we find a series of “gold stars.” Abraham literally had many sons, but Genesis 25 tells us that he gave all he had to Isaac and sent the others away. Isaac and Rebekah each had a favorite son, and as a result their fraternal twins would live in conflict for decades. In the preface of our passage today, the scripture tells us that Jacob “loved Joseph more than any other of his children,” leading Joseph to arrogance and his brothers to hatred.
The gold-star label can be uncomfortable. For all the perks of being favored, the favored one may pay a price in the response it can evoke from others. But whom do we blame? The father who played favorites? The son who let it go to his head? The brothers who felt slighted?
Favoritism runs up and down this family tree, poisoning relationships. The effect finally compounds itself to the point where the divinely promised offspring sell their brother into slavery and lie to their father, saying that his beloved son is dead. This problem goes beyond relational to systemic.
Broken relationships and broken systems continue to compound themselves in our world today. Poisons like prejudice, greed, and violence lead to injustices like poverty, hunger, and human trafficking. It would be charitable to call these injustices uncomfortable. These injustices are, more accurately, sinful and destructive.
Sadly, we experience these injustices in the church as well. But the Joseph narrative offers good news: When faithful people awaken to what God is doing in and through them, they can become a force for good—repairing broken systems, restoring relationships, and blessing the world around them.

God, we pray that you open our eyes to the injustices in the world around us. Make us instruments of your love. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 14:22-33

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Lectionary Week
August 7–13, 2017
Scripture Overview

The Genesis text begins the story of Joseph. Things would have turned out very different for Joseph (and for Israel) had it not been for the watchful care of the One who called Israel into being. Psalm 105 brie y recites the saving events in Israel’s life, and this week’s portion remembers the story of Joseph, stressing both the hiddenness and the crucial significance of God’s mercy. In Romans 10 note the manner in which Paul brings the past to bear on the present in terms of God’s saving activity. Notice also Paul’s insistence on the universal availability of salvation. The Gospel lesson of Jesus stilling the storm points to the inexplicable wonder of God’s redeeming love, which can be appropriated and answered only in doxology.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28. The writer says, “Not all the challenges we face are a divine plan.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
• Read Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b. How well does your memory serve you in times of distress to recall God’s presence and past action?• Read Romans 10:5-15. In what situations have you chosen to rely on God?
• Read Matthew 14:22-33. The writer says that comfort and safety should not be our “primary criteria when discerning and acting on God’s will.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.