Good Monday morning!
1Then Jacob called his sons, and said: “Gather around, that I may tell you what will happen to you in days to come. 2Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob; listen to Israel your father.
3Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the first fruits of my vigor, excelling in rank and excelling in power. 4Unstable as water, you shall no longer excel because you went up onto your father’s bed; then you defiled it – you went up onto my couch!
5Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords. 6May I never come into their council; may I not be joined to their company – for in their anger they killed men, and at their whim they hamstrung oxen. 7Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
8Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. 9Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches down, he stretches out like a lion, like a lioness – who dares rouse him up? 10The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and the obedience of the peoples is his. 11Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he washes his garments in wine and his robe in the blood of grapes; 12his eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk.
13Zebulun shall settle at the shore of the sea; he shall be a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon.
14Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between the sheepfolds; 15he saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant; so he bowed his shoulder to the burden, and became a slave at forced labor.
16Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. 17Dan shall be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider falls backward.
18I wait for your salvation, O LORD. 19Gad shall be raided by raiders, but he shall raid at their heels.
20Asher’s food shall be rich, and he shall provide royal delicacies.
21Naphtali is a doe let loose that bears lovely fawns.
22Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. 23The archers fiercely attacked him; they shot at him and pressed him hard. 24Yet his bow remained taut, and his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, 25by the God of your father, who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. 26the blessings of your father are stronger than the blessings of the eternal mountains, the bounties of the everlasting hills; may they be on the head of Joseph, on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.
27Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey, and at evening dividing the spoil.”
28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, blessing each one of them with a suitable blessing.
I have always loved that story that my mom tells about being a little delayed in picking up my middle brother Andrew one day. For a year, my brother went to school in Sweet Home so my mom would take him and pick him up at the end of her day and bring him home. One day, my mom had been working a little later and went to pick up Andrew. She apologized for being late and he replied,totally serious, “I knew for sure that you would go home, count your children, and realize that one was missing.” When my mom tells this story, it always makes me giggle. We did not have a gaggle of children at our house….just four of us…but that story makes it sound as if we were the sons of Jacob or more. Certainly she would count her children and by that she would know one was missing. ha!
But in all honesty, it has always surprised me that the four of us are both so incredibly different and in some ways very similar. All four of us have been called to very different careers from one another and our interests and talents vary but when we get together we have such a fabulous time. My brothers are hilarious and all very kind. They prioritize family and I enjoy being with them so much. We say similar things. My brother Grant is moving to Portland and so we are getting to see one another more and I am loving it! He is so much fun to hang out with one on one. He and I were eating breakfast and I said to the dog, “Hey, do you need to go o-u-t?” Grant laughed and said, “So you did pick up things from mom, eh?” We all have things that we say that we can trace right back to our parental units.
The Genesis passage this morning is Jacob blessing his 12 sons (who knew how many daughters he had as well with his three wives). He calls them each by name and tells them how they are so very unique and then blesses them in that. They come from the same family, background, landscape and yet they are all so unique and called to so very different places and blessed differently. They will go on to establish the 12 tribes of Israel and carry God’s work in unique ways.
We are all blessed and called very differently and yet called. We each have our name and our space. We carry our uniqueness into the world and many of us are still trying to find that space. Many of us are still searching for that unique blessing to live into. But we all come from the same God and are called and blessed. We have similarities in addition to our uniqueness. And we can have such a good time together!