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Genesis 45:1-15 (NRSV)
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
Earlier this month, we began Genesis 37—the story of Joseph and his brothers, a saga of passions that drive people to desperate, destructive acts. We could be put off by its archaic setting, and leave it in Sunday School. Or we could take it into Monday, lay it alongside our lives, and think about its concerns.
Careless favoritism. Self-importance. Seething resentment. When have these emerged in my own story? Where are they still oozing out? How have they shaped my family’s history, our future, and this very moment?
The ancient storytellers never flinched from examining the offenses of our ancestors. In the midst of the story, they discerned the healing, redeeming hand of God. Joseph believed that God transformed the pain of his hardships into strength, and put him in place to protect those who loved him, and those who might learn to love him.
God can pour streams of healing through the deserts that we make. God urges us to repair the damage that we do. God wants us to open our broken hearts, to be restored by divine love. And we are called to be channels of that love, for those around us.
Can we discover moments when God has touched our losses with healing? They might not be clear for awhile, but let us pray to realize them. Meanwhile, may we remember this: God is as near to us as our next breath, giving us love, courage, and hope with every new day!
Merciful God, forgive me when I am quick to turn inward to my own needs. Help me to see how tenderly you lift me up. Shape my heart to turn outward to the world with your compassion. In the name of your son Jesus, who teaches us to love and to serve, we pray. Amen.