I am not here to pass judgement
or point the finger at anyone.
My name was written in the sand
as one who is forgiven.
Strengthened with hope, impervious to shame,
I will walk freely like the freshness
of the dry lands after rain.
Let light spill out of heaven
through my life,
dispelling mediocrity and silent blame.
Too many people, guilt-stricken, wounded,
walk in regret,
feeling bad about failing,
apologise even for breathing.
Raw belief, a passion for others
grows in me,
encircling each moment
with instinctive prayer.
I will carry the freshness
of the dry lands after rain.
Compassion lives in me again.
Andy Raine (excerpt from Celtic Daily Prayer)
I’m preparing a teaching reflection for the 2nd week of Lent and it has led me to the story of Joseph in Genesis. I have long found the narrative of Joseph’s life to be quite compelling. Can you imagine a more dysfunctional family? The Father clearly favors one son over the others, the son overplays his arrogance card, the brothers act out in defiance and sell their brother into slavery while bold-face lying to Dad. This is the stuff of FOX reality TV. In fact, the Jewish Scriptures are full of them. They were as we still are, they are us. Is there anything more painful than the experience of rejection? It has the power to be fatal to our personhood. Joseph has a concrete representation of his worth to his brothers, they sell him into slavery. Now, forever, if he chooses, he can buy into the lie that he is worthless and have a pretty good story to back up that accusation. When he finds himself in prison in Pharaoh’s kingdom, I can only imagine he had dark nights of the soul where he would rue his very existence. It is in these deep place of depression where we cannot see the big picture, our perspective is obliterated. Somehow, Joseph just made a decision to keep hoping about a future. Regardless of emotion and experience, he yet dreamed for something new about his future. And that day came.You can’t read Gen. 38 and the horror of Joseph’s rejection from his brothers without taking that in context with Gen. 45 and Joseph reconciling with them. In short, he deemed the situation, “what you meant for evil, God meant for good.” It was God who assigned Joseph to a different future in the kingdom. It was his leadershp at a high position that saved the kingdom from famine. It was his leadership that was carved out of a history of horrid rejection, dark nights of the soul and the turning away of the negative voices in his head. He fought for a different future and experienced a kind of resurrection. Hard times have the power to carve a good leader. It was also his choice to reconcile with his brothers. He could have cursed them and chose resentment, but he knew that was a poison to his soul. The Kingdom way is to bless, not to curse and in it you find a fountain of new life. In this time of Lent, search your heart for those who have wronged you. Choose to not listen to the false voices that want to dictate to you your worth. Fight for the thoughts about a new future, a resurrection. Choose to bless those who curse you and find your worth in the One who made you. I pray that new life springs up within your very soul. peace,marshall