1st Scripture Reading: Genesis 45:1-11, 15 & Psalm 37
Joseph’s brothers didn’t like him very much. In fact this sibling rivalry extended to wanting to do him actual harm. He was the clear fabourite of their father, and the other boys were very jealous.
So, the story goes that one day young Joseph was sent out to the fields to get his brothers, and they decided to get rid of him. They didn’t kill him, but put him down a pit designed to trap animals. He was rescued by some Ishmaelites who sold him to a passing caravan heading to Egypt.
Sold into slavery in Egypt, Joseph rose to greatness in the household of the Pharaoh of Egypt, becoming a very powerful and influential public servant.
This reading is about the reconciliation of Joseph with his brothers, who do not recognize him, but who do remember their guilt over what they did to him. Joseph reveals himself to them, and assures them that he has forgiven them, and there is no need for them to feel guilt, as he feels that God has directed his life so that now he is in a very good position to help his people in this terrible time of famine.
This story reminds us to look for the blessing in whatever happens to us, and not to hold hatred in our hearts for those who have wronged us.
Families can be home to difficult relationships for sure. My mother and her sister didn’t speak to each other for many years over a disagreement about the disposition of my grandmother’s property. I am happy to say that they were eventually reconciled, but as a child I never knew how that came about. A little more clarity around the will of my grandmother might have prevented this unpleasantness altogether.
As a Canadian right now, you and I are faced with a couple of situations where relationships are damaged and we must try to find our way forwards to a more harmonious future. I am thinking of our relationships with our indigenous neighbours, and in BC with our friends in Alberta.
Old hurts must be brought into the Light of reason and forgiveness, and then, only moving the focus onto what is best for the people, and best for the land, and most of all what is best for future generations, will generate new thinking, compromise and clearer vision. We are all in this together. We are all creatures of a loving God. We are all totally dependent on the resources of this beautiful planet for our health and well-being, and that of our children and grandchildren. God has provided. God will continue to provide. Let us lean into God’s infinite mercy.
Hymn #271 VU “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy”
2nd Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-44 (Read “Message”)
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” There is a version of this spiritual law in every major religion. If we would all live this truth as Law, this world would be a different place. There would be no sexual abuse of children or vulnerable adults. There would be no financial exploitation of seniours. There would be no unemployment or homelessness. There would be no artificial barriers to education and opportunity. There would be no danger of extinction of other species.
Because we would care. We would care to find ways to help all our citizens feel worthy – worthy of respect, of shelter, of adequate housing, of educational support to realize their dreams. We would care that whales need habitat that is clean and quiet. We would care that some rural communities have no clean water and mouldy housing.
The challenge is huge. I know that. But if we all do what we can. If we refuse to contribute to negativity and hatred and the need for revenge or punishment. If we pray for those who don’t get it – who demonstrably do not live by the Law of Love – then things will change. They will change. And our world will change for the better. This is our calling. It never was easy, and maybe it never will be – but make no mistake, this is exactly what Jesus calls us to do, people of God.
We are the seeds. We are the yeast that leavens the whole loaf. There is work to do, and it is ours to do.
Hymn #703 VU “In the bulb there is a flower”