Genesis 45:1-15 (NRSV)
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, 'Send everyone away from me.' So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, 'I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?' But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, 'Come closer to me.' And they came closer. He said, 'I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, "Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children's children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there - since there are five more years of famine to come - so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty." And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father how greatly I am honoured in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.' Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
Do you remember the story: the coat of many colors and the dreams of lordship, and how, out of jealousy, Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt? Because of his remarkable ability to interpret Pharaoh's dreams, he was eventually put in charge of the entire nation. Then one day, during a time of famine, his brothers came to Egypt, seeking to buy food from the granaries that Joseph had filled. When they appeared before him, Joseph knew them instantly, but they failed to recognize him. Joseph hid his true identity from them, and used his knowledge and power to trick and torment them.
Like Joseph, we sometimes hide our true selves. There are many motivations to do so: anger, greed, lust, revenge. We may hide for fear of being hurt, in order to gain power over others, or because we want to shirk our responsibilities.
But there is One from whom we cannot hide - though we sometimes act as though we could. God knows us as we are and, whatever our truth may be, loves us unconditionally. In the light of God's love, which Christians see revealed especially in Jesus, we are empowered to accept the reality of who we are. Knowing ourselves as loved counteracts the many motivations to hide. It frees us to live authentically with others and with ourselves.
When Joseph realizes that God's loving providence has been present throughout all the events of his life, working to bring good out of evil, he tells his brothers, "God sent me before you to preserve life [by providing food during the famine], and to keep alive for you many survivors [of our people]." Joseph's longing for restoration of his family relationships overwhelms his desire for revenge. He weeps and cries out, "I am your brother Joseph!" We see that his identity as brother is deeper and truer than his role as lord of Egypt. By reclaiming this identity, and bringing his family to live in Egypt, Joseph keeps alive the covenant established between God and Abraham.
Sometimes it is very hard to own the truth about ourselves. However, doing so liberates great power in our lives for good. As individuals, and as congregations, where is God calling us to greater authenticity? What blessing could grow in and through us if we would be more truly ourselves? What is one step in this direction that you could take today?
O Holy One, source of all truth, strengthen our faith in your love so that we can be our truest selves. By your grace, and through our own truthfulness, may we bring goodness and reconciliation to creation. Amen.