Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Lenten Journey: Climbing to the Cross - Day NINETEEN

Lilly, in her 'rainbow fwetter,' giving her friend Alice a big hug and kiss at her 2nd birthday party last month.

Genesis 45:1-15, Today's New International Version
(Yesterday's devotional reading list had TWO texts I wanted to wrestle with and reflect on, so I'm 'cheating' today by using the 2nd of those texts in this post. Back on schedule tomorrow - I promise!)
   Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. 

     Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
     Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
     “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’
“You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”
Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.


Don't you just love reunions? 

Well, here is one of the best ever.

     the over-confident, 
          slightly obnoxious, 
               Daddy's boy -
     big-time dreamer, 
          unwise teller of truth -
THAT Joseph, 
     sold by his brothers, like an unwanted plaything -
     many years of long stories later,  
that Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. 

Those brothers -
     the very ones who had betrayed him as a teenager;
     the very ones who lied to their father, telling him Joseph was dead.
     the very ones who have come, hats in hand, to beg for mercy
          one.more.time -
these are the ones Joseph weeps over.

Yes, he has tested those brothers, wanting to be sure they have outgrown their violent past. 

And they have passed every test. 

So now - it all comes gushing out:
     "It's me, guys!"
     "It's all fine, guys."
     "I know you meant it for harm - but God..." 

"But GOD..." 

Possibly the two most beautiful words in the English language. 

Words that Joseph repeats and repeats, 
     assuring his terror-stricken brothers that all is well. 
     Things are as they should be, 
          as God meant them to be - 
               even as God had told him they would be, 
                    those many eons ago, back in his dreaming days. 

Ah, yes. Those dreams.

Never underestimate the power of a dream. Never. 

For in many ways, it is dreams that power this entire story:
     Joseph's dreams as a young boy, full of himself, babbling and bragging...
     Prisoners' dreams which bring Joseph to the attention of powerful people...
     Pharoah's dreams which bring the gift of an entirely new life to Joseph - 
     the sold one, 
          the falsely accused one, 
               the imprisoned one, 
                    the forgotten one -
                          now...the exalted one.

But most of all, this story is about GOD'S dream. 

God's dream of a people uniquely his own;
     God's dream to preserve them when famine strikes;
           God's dream for the salvation, healing and reconciliation of the entire human race through the choosing and the saving of that people...
                a dream which is planted as a seed here in Genesis,
                and then blooms into the beautiful Rose of Sharon, Jesus of Nazareth, whom we meet in the pages of the gospels. 

Talk about a God-sized dream. Wow.


O Dreaming God, thank you for planting your dream for our reunion with you deep in the heart of each one of us. And thank you for the story of Joseph - all of the story of Joseph - the hard parts, the scary parts, the exciting parts, the deeply satisfying parts. Help us to nourish our dreams, to test them and treasure them. And by your Spirit at work within us, empower us to live them. Amen.

Click here for day one of this series and an explanation of what it's all about.