Bread – Journeys

March 21, 2014


Readings for Friday, March 21, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 43:1-15; 1 Cor. 7:1-9; Mark 4:35-41; Psalms 69,73,95

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In today’s reading from Genesis, Israel’s children have returned from Egypt with the bread given to them by Joseph (unknown to them as the brother they threw away), but Israel and his sons and family have consumed what was returned. So, another trip to Egypt is in store. Israel tells them to go back to Israel, but the sons refuse unless they can take Benjamin, the youngest, with them, because Joseph told them to and they cannot go back and ask for bread without the youngest in tow. Judah, the oldest son, finally swears that he will take care of Benjamin or bear the shame of his failure forever. Israel relents because the famine was great and they needed food.

The brothers, including Benjamin, then set out on their journey to Joseph and Egypt with these words of Israel ringing in their ears – “…if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” Gen. 43:14b

I have probably read this history at least ten times in my life, and my memory of it was that Israel lamented his youngest going on the trip and cried. Instead, however, a closer reading (and a more correct reading) is that Israel was resigned to the fact that the journey might end with all of his children dead. “If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” If I lose everything, so be it.

Have you ever launched into a journey with the understanding that everything could be lost on the way? Knowing this, some people are frightened into never beginning the journey. Knowing this, some people spent enormous amounts of energy, money, and time preparing for all contingencies on the journey, so they take the journey all burdened down with stuff. Knowing this, some people are just fatalistic and go on the journey, with an “Oh well” mentality. But there is a fourth type of person, a person who takes the journey with their face steeled against the possibility that things will turn out poorly, but also believing in faith that it will not. Sometimes that faith is in themselves, which we know to be a weak foundation. If they are Christian, that faith is in Christ, in God, which we know to be a strong foundation.

Jesus in our reading today from Mark speaks of a journey, a journey across the sea in a small boat, tossed and turned by the waves, the wind, and the rain. Jesus appears and calms the storm, and then asks the disciples why they were afraid, why they had so little faith.

What is interesting about the disciples on the sea in the boat in the storm quieted by Jesus is that the journey for the disciples did not end. They were still in the boat in the middle of the sea. They still had to cross to the other side. Things could still turn out badly; they had a taste of that earlier. The difference was, however, that Jesus was in the boat and, knowing that, the disciples might, just might, have gained that measure of faith to see them to the end of their journey.

We are all on a journey. We may be on a journey to our next meeting, to lunch, to our next promotion, to our next job termination, to health or illness, to wealth or poverty, to gain or loss, to freedom or imprisonment, to life or death. We are on a journey through life.

The question is really, not whether we will be on the journey, but what our attitude will be about it. Will we be so afraid that we will not venture out to even take the first step? Will we be so worried that we will spend so much time in preparation that we never have any time to enjoy it? Will we be so trusting in ourselves that we will walk far out onto bridge across the water before we realize that the bridge we have built is weak and failing? Or will be so trusting in Christ that, when the waves come and the lightning strikes, we turn to Him with a smile on our face and say, ‘Thank you, Jesus, for this opportunity to trust You more, now please take care of it!’

We take many journeys, but can we truly say “If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved?” Can we truly say, “Come what may on my journey, I still have won?” In Christ, you can.

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© 2014 GBF

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