"Where were you when the world stopped turning?" Country star Alan Jackson used that hook in his song about September 11, 2001. Everyone remembers exactly where they were on 9/11, and the emotions of that day are still very raw.
Joseph's emotions were certainly raw when his brothers came before him begging for help and adding more lies to their relationship telling him, "Dad told us to tell you to be nice!" How should Joseph respond? Father is dead, he has no reason to trust these brothers, he would be justified in casting them out or worse having them imprisoned or killed.
How do we respond when we have been grievously wronged? Issues of justice are to be addressed, families to console and we work to prevent future attacks. There are no simple answers, but there is this biblical witness of a brother who over time came to a new place where relationship could be restored. Never the same--but restored none the less because God is still at work, calling us back to relationship with one another.
Patient and loving God, you grieve our sins against one another--each life lost on September 11, 2001, and the lives lost since that day. Comfort the families torn apart around your world by the events of that day. Turn our hearts towards the hard work of justice, forgiveness and ultimately love. In the name of the one who suffered unjustly for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Genesis 50:15-21 (NRSV)
15 Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph's brothers said, "What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?"
16 So they approached Joseph, saying, "Your father gave this instruction before he died,
17 "Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.' Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father." Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
18 Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, "We are here as your slaves."
19 But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God?
20 Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.
21 So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones." In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.