Families can need the help of the heavenly father

Published 9:19 am Friday, October 19, 2012

Across the Pastor’s Desk

By the Rev. James Rushton, First Lutheran Church, Glenville

Tom and Dick got to fighting over a stuffed teddy bear. And mom can’t help but hear the uproar. She comes to investigate.

“Tom,” she said, “let your younger brother play with the bear. You find something else to play with.” Mom would like to believe that the problem is solved. But as she leaves the room, Tom turns to his younger brother and says, “Mom always likes you best.” Yes, the green-eyed monster of jealousy strikes again, and brotherly love is tested once more.

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Yes, we have tasted life in the home. And when I say, “We always hurt the ones we love,” I believe you’ll have to nod your heads in agreement. Yes, in our early years we quickly find out what sibling rivalry is all about, as we teased our sibling into hitting us, so that we could run to our folks and tattle on them. Or perhaps the parents fight over who is going to manage the checkbook, because the checkbook means power. And finally we may see how one parent will get the children to side with them against the other parent, and a wedge is driven into the structure of family unity. In the end, it seems that defending our actions is more important to us than our relationships. In situations like these in our homes, don’t we need the healing help of our heavenly father?

Now, Jacob’s family was a real mess. I hardly need to remind you that Jacob had four wives and 12 children. That in itself would last a whole season on a soap opera! Our reading from Genesis is a story with a strange twist in the plot. Now the brothers of Joseph had beat him, thrown him in a pit and sold him to a passing caravan years ago. We see now in our reading that the brothers expect to get their just desserts, as the day of reckoning has finally come. Joseph as pharaoh’s right hand man could have easily taken his brother’s lives. But instead he says to them, “Fear not, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me: but God meant it for good.” Amazing, isn’t it? After all that terrible treatment, Joseph is not in the least bit interested in getting back at his brothers.

God’s ultimate expression of love for us comes in the life of Jesus. Now, life in the home was anything but easy for Jesus. He, like other children who are the eldest of the family, was expected to help out with things around the home. And that was a job and a half because Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters. He worked with his father, Joseph, in the carpenter shop. And we know how tension can mount in family-owned business. We understand Joseph died young and so Jesus as the eldest son, was responsible for the welfare of his mother and the rest of the family. We hear that Jesus moved them lock, stock and barrel to Capernaum, so he could begin his ministry there. You could just about see the sparks fly when Jesus announced that they were leaving their home in Nazareth and their friends. Yes, Jesus lived in a family. And he died for member of every family, that we might know the love of Christ Jesus our Lord.