Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

This week's reading from the Hebrew Bible is the climax of the Joseph narrative, presenting not only Joseph's forgiveness of his brothers, but also revealing God's purposes in bringing him into Egypt so that the community of promise might be preserved through the coming famine. In the May - August issue of Homily Service, John E. Smith reflected upon universal plan for the human family which is exemplified in God's preservation of Joseph's family.

There is more to this climax, however, than the Dickens-like outcome to the story of Joseph and his family. This is also the moment that reveals how God has acted through the antics of Joseph’s family to preserve his promise to Abraham and his chosen people. Certainly we admire Joseph in this “ah, ha” moment of tables turned and accountable justice. However, it is not Joseph’s magnanimous nature that is elevated here; rather, it is God’s character and faithful action that is revealed in verse 7: “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.” God acts to preserve the life of Jacob and his family, fulfilling the promise made, and preserving his purpose and the destiny that undergirds the whole project. God reveals himself through this family to bless all the peoples of the earth and to restore humanity to him. His choosing Abraham and his descendants is in order to bless all the families of the earth. (Gen 12:3).

Who is God preserving today, in order to bless the families of the earth? Is God acting through the wielders of secular power (such as Pharaoh) to work out the preservation of communities of blessing?

Homily Service: an ecumenical resource for sharing the word. vol. 41, no. 5, pp. 155.

John E. Smith is the pastor of Bethany United Methodist Church of Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

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