This Sunday we look at the conclusion of the Joseph drama (Genesis 45: 1-15).
Joseph is now in charge of many important things in Egypt, the land of his slavery. His brothers find themselves at his disposal, with the tables 'turned on them'. They are facing famine and poverty and come to Egypt, the land of "the American Dream" in that time. What they do not know is that it is the brother they sold into slavery who is going to meet them, and decide their fate.
Sometimes justice does win!
This is the point where we see the real value of this servant of God. Joseph had every reason to turn them away, or at least make them pay for selling him into slavery as a younger and dependent brother, but he does the exact opposite.
He shows mercy.
Mercy is more important to him than wealth or position or power - and definitely more important than revenge. He leaves all the eternal decisions about consequences up to God, as he leaves all things up to God.
In this day and age, this cynical and sometimes bitter time, we still argue, and even kill, over property and wealth. How much we can learn from Joseph.
God leaves us saints, such as this Joseph of the Older Testament, to teach us the way of humility and grace.
The other night I was out with a few of you for a time of late summer celebration by the lake. You thanked me at that time for my time with you, but I am the one feeling so richly blessed.
You have restored my faith in congregational ministry. I partly went into chaplaincy because I felt congregations were too politically interested in their own survival and too concerned, at the end of the day, about money.
I wanted to go back to the basics in ministry, which for me was with people who had nothing - those living on the streets and backwaters of our affluent society.
But God showed me that it is not about the presence, or the absence, of wealth, but about the wealth of the hearts of those serving Him.
As I wind up one of my last Friday messages, I leave you all with the faithful witness of God's servant Joseph, who not only did not make wealth and prestige his first priority, but did not exclude anyone because of either its absence or presence.
God love you deeply as you move into your next journey with Him. May God's love secure you and may you continue to be that place where weary souls walk in freely, and even at some risk to you, through the doors of this church to find a cup of cold water in His name, and in the name of compassionate love. This outreach you have of being there for the forgotten and lost in your neighborhood, this is one of the most vital ministries you have. I thank God especially for Peter who, I am sure, has a bed hidden in this building somewhere. Your open heart to these forgotten children of God is what makes your Ministry so real.