Genesis 37:3-8, 17b-22
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.
Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, ‘Listen to this dream that I dreamed. There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.’ His brothers said to him, ‘Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?’ So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.
The man said, ‘They have gone away, for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.’ But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, ‘Let us not take his life.’ Reuben said to them, ‘Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him’—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father.
Any of us with siblings can probably feel the tension in the air as Joseph relates his dream to his brothers. As the youngest sibling myself, I get it. There is a pecking order in most sibling groups and all kinds of feelings around who is the favorite, who gets the most attention (positive or negative), and who gets the best from mom and dad. While this story is an extreme example, are any of us surprised? Joseph should have kept that dream to himself and the brothers should have let it roll off their backs, but there is such a history of feelings and slights over the years that none of these brothers are on their best behavior (Reuben rises above…a little bit). And so the older brothers say, “here comes the dreamer!” and not because they are excited about seeing him. It doesn’t take much imagination to hear the sarcasm dripping in their voices turn to contempt as they make a plan to dispose of the youngest brother.
As we make our way towards Sunday we are thinking about broken relationships, with Joseph and his brothers as our guides. Today I ask that you ponder the relationships in your life, sibling or otherwise, that have sustained cracks and breaks. Was there healing, forgiveness, or reconciliation? Why or why not?
I invite you to light a candle and pray with me: Loving God, you promise that nothing can separate us from your love, not even our broken relationships. We come before you with our sins, the ways we have been hurt, and the way we have hurt others. We ask for your forgiveness. We ask that you hold us in those places that seem shattered beyond repair. We ask that you lead us into new ways of being siblings in Christ. All this we ask in the name of the one who reconciles all things to himself in grace, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Friend. Amen.
In Peace, Pastor Ruth