September 7

Genesis 50:15-18

“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?’” vs. 15

The death of a matriarch or patriarch often provokes interesting reactions among family members. Sometimes there are disputes about the will that cause deep ruptures and unending strife. Often there is a deep sense of loss–mothers and fathers are hubs that hold a family together. When they’re gone some of the connectivity disappears with them. Jacob’s sons were afraid that with their father dead, Joseph might be freed to pay them back for selling him into slavery. They felt he had only been kind to them because he loved their father so much. Those dynamics are universal and still plague us. So it’s not at all unusual for unresolved tensions to erupt when a scattered family gathers for a funeral or memorial service. Old resentments bubble to the surface and when mom or dad isn’t there to referee, conversation is unfiltered and can turn ugly at a moment’s notice. In their uncertainty Joseph’s brothers came up with a lie about their dad’s last wishes that they hoped would keep the peace–and their lie worked! How good it is when families can enjoy open and honest communication through the years, and funerals can be a celebration and not an ordeal–and there’s no need for lies. And what a blessing it is when that happens!

Thought for the Day: What are the most common reasons for funeral tensions?

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