Children have always held a special place in the lives of Native American and indigenous communities across the world. Many in North America believe that the innocence and purity these little ones possess is the closest we can get to the spirit world or to the realm of God our Creator. Special moments are provided for various events in the lives of these children as they begin to make their mark in life. These cultures believe that children have not been marred by the trauma of life that often causes us to lose our focus as we get older. Native American tribal communities are mindful of the presence of children when speaking about the importance of maintaining tribal languages and even when performing certain spiritual ceremonies. The hope that the children will have something to carry on becomes the purpose of all activities in life. In most cases this something they carry on is their culture and identity.
In a world often harsh to the reality and needs of children, Joseph makes special mention of the children: “You shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children.” The environment of the part of the ancient world where Joseph’s family dwells does not provide an easy life for anyone. Minimal access to food and water, and manual labor to bring in a harvest make life challenging. If a family is not large enough to tend what they own, hired hands create another expense. In Joseph’s time, families look upon having many children and grandchildren as a blessing from God. If one is poor or forced into slavery, life is unbearable.
Joseph’s instruction to bring not just his father but the children as well displays an act of compassion that at times is absent in this ancient environment.
Creator, protect the children of the world. May they laugh and enjoy life as young people should. May your Spirit surround children of all faiths, countries, and communities. Amen.
Joseph had experienced betrayal by his brothers and then had been sold into slavery. At the time, he no doubt had felt abandoned by God. However, after God raises up Joseph in Egypt, Joseph is able to provide for his family in a time of drought. Although others have acted with evil intentions, God uses it for good. The psalmist offers a similar encouragement. We struggle in the real challenges that face us, but we believe in a God who can carry us through them. In First Corinthians, Paul explains that God carries us even through death to resurrection glory on the other side. Jesus teaches us to respond to evil with mercy. Because we believe in a God who will ultimately bring justice, we do not need to serve as judge and executioner.
Read Genesis 45:3-11, 15. How would considering your children’s children to seven generations change the way you make decisions?
Read Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40. What is your relationship to the land on which you live now and the land on which you lived as you grew up?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50. How do you live out the characteristics of God’s imperishable realm?
Read Luke 6:27-38. How do you respond to Jesus’ call to love your enemies as an individual? How does your community of faith follow this gospel requirement?
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