The story of Joseph in the book of Genesis is a fairly well- known saga, possibly one of the best-known texts of the Hebrew scriptures. The story is full of controversy, betrayal, wonder, and even forgiveness and reconciliation.
Our reading for today projects us into the moment Joseph reveals to his brothers his identity. This moment, we assume, has haunted Joseph for many a year, as would be the case for most human beings, especially in the ancient world where vengeance was a pursuit of gratification as it is today. But the story takes a turn that may surprise those reading the story from start to finish or perhaps listening to it being told orally. As opposed to retribution, Joseph offers forgiveness and interpretation for the events that have transpired: “God sent me before you to preserve life.” By not focusing on understanding the outcome but looking at the bigger picture, Joseph now has the ability to preserve life and to limit suffering.
Today the actions of others bombard us with the same debate of whether to continue harm and violence or to preserve life and peace.
Native American cultures have an unwritten understanding that the decisions we make have the ability to impact those yet to be born seven generations forward. As we live and make decisions in this life, we must consider whether our decisions will harm those around us and those who have not yet had a chance to make decisions of their own—those who have yet to be born.
Just as Joseph realized God’s bigger picture of provision for Joseph’s family, so must we realize that even the most difficult of circumstances can bring blessings and harmony.
Creator, in all that life has to offer, help me to choose the essence of life, which is love and harmony. Amen.
Joseph had experienced betrayal by his brothers and then had been sold into slavery. At the time, he no doubt had felt abandoned by God. However, after God raises up Joseph in Egypt, Joseph is able to provide for his family in a time of drought. Although others have acted with evil intentions, God uses it for good. The psalmist offers a similar encouragement. We struggle in the real challenges that face us, but we believe in a God who can carry us through them. In First Corinthians, Paul explains that God carries us even through death to resurrection glory on the other side. Jesus teaches us to respond to evil with mercy. Because we believe in a God who will ultimately bring justice, we do not need to serve as judge and executioner.
Read Genesis 45:3-11, 15. How would considering your children’s children to seven generations change the way you make decisions?
Read Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40. What is your relationship to the land on which you live now and the land on which you lived as you grew up?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50. How do you live out the characteristics of God’s imperishable realm?
Read Luke 6:27-38. How do you respond to Jesus’ call to love your enemies as an individual? How does your community of faith follow this gospel requirement?
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.”
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