I will make of you a great nation . . . and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. — Genesis 12:2-3
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to God’s purpose. — Romans 8:28
Genesis 37 beings like this: “Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. This is the account of Jacob’s family line.” The story of Joseph — Jacob’s son — is proof that God’s promise to Abraham — Jacob’s grandfather — for descendants as numerous as the stars was unbroken.
It might have gone either way, however. The story of Jacob’s sons paints a pretty ugly picture. Except for Joseph. Joseph was not Jacob’s eldest son, but he was Rachel’s oldest son and Rachel was Jacob’s most-loved wife. Jacob worked 20 years for the privilege of marrying her. And he never gave her barrenness a second thought — until Joseph was born.
With great joy, Jacob pulls out the coat of many colors and presents it to Joseph as a sign that Joseph will be his successor, with all the rights and privileges that go with it.
I wonder if Joseph took his favored position in the family for granted. When Joseph was separated from his family during his life in Egypt, God provided him with many life lessons. Perhaps Joseph’s years in Egypt allowed him to see life from the other side, as his brothers had. Perhaps during those years Joseph’s compassion stretched to new heights. And when, finally, Joseph’s brothers present themselves starving from famine, Joseph is able to reconcile with them.
Reconciliation is hard work.
I learned this week that, statistically, the ELCA is the whitest church in America. I wonder what hard work we’re willing to do in order to reconcile with all our brothers and sisters.