Readings:  Genesis 43:1-28 and Mark 12:13-27

Genesis 43:1:  “Now the famine was severe in the land.”   Let’s stop there for a moment and let this sink in.  The time is when Jacob’s sons were preparing for a second trip to Egypt to get grain.  By this time, there had not been rain and crops had failed. In the previous seven years, there was plenty, and Egypt had ‘insider information’ to garner up a supply of grain that would last for seven years.  Now, with no food on the shelves in the rest of the surrounding world, Egypt was the only place to go to purchase grain. Locally, the grocery store shelves are bare. Sound familiar? Didn’t we just have a time of plenty, and now, with the presence of the Coronavirus, things are less available?  Instead of a famine, isn’t this virus—this pestilence—severe in our land today?

Who would have thought (or as I sometimes say it, “whooda thunk”) that this reading was appointed for our hearing today?  I’ve said this many times about our man-designed lectionary, the system of readings for each week as well as for each day in our hymnal and Bible reading resources.  God uses His Word daily to call, gather, enlighten and sanctify His people and lead them to faith and holy living (good works). Yet as we read the full chapter, we learn how Jacob (aka Israel) would send his sons yet again to get grain.  What they hadn’t bargained on was being reunited with the one brother whom they shipped off for slavery many years before. Whooda thunk that God had this reunion planned from the beginning!

The circumstances of Joseph’s reunion with his brothers did not require that “Social Space” as we hear today.  They hugged and even kissed! They were filled with joy in this reunion. Later as we will read, Joseph would assure his brothers with forgiveness.  We will soon hear Joseph tell his brothers: “You guys meant it for evil, but God turned this evil around to effectively save many lives.”

This ‘Social Space” and as some states are practicing it, “Staying in Place”, are but two ways to counter the spread of the COVID-19 and to save many lives.  That’s the government’s way of using information from health officials to mandate ways to stem this plague. It is as Jesus would also instruct, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar.”  Our honoring our government officials in this manner is one way we, too, render unto the government this obligation to love and help our neighbor, and for this time.  

We also look forward to the day of the Resurrection, but not like the Sadducees did.  We will be more than ‘like angels’—confirmed in heavenly bliss, praising and serving God in heaven, escorted by the Bridegroom Christ to the heavenly banquet—we will be worshiping the God of the living.  Until then, we continue to hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly take to heart the precious truths of God’s Word, trusting that He has designed these readings for our benefit, all the while to love and serve our neighbor by praying for his or her well-being.

We pray:  Lord God, heavenly Father, You bless man with Your Word and You send us Your Holy Spirit to guide us to the truth.  In these days of earthly pestilence, we turn to You, asking for guidance through this anxious time. Grant our health officials and government leaders the insight and wisdom on how to guide us through this trial.  Bless the doctors, nurses, EMTs, and other medical personnel with strength and protection as they treat those with this and other illnesses. We thank You for all that You have provided us including our health and well-being.  Bless and protect those who produce, deliver, and provide the food in our stores. We know all these things come from Your gracious hand by Your loving will. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.  

Our Father…

The grace of the Lord + Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen.  

Rev. Ron Brauer

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