When Jesus, Thomas, Phillip, and the rest sat down at the table in
Jerusalem, they had come there to remember their ancestors and
what God had done for them. They fed themselves with these stories.
I wonder if they told this one that we read today, which comes just
after the ancient instruction to observe the Passover Festival.
After the people leave Egypt, they follow the pillar of cloud and let the pillar of fire take them via the roundabout way through the desert (vv. 18, 21-22). They carry Joseph’s bones with them to fulfill their ancestors’ promises. For everyone wandering, these bones represent the mixed-up inheritance of a father’s preference for one son and everyone else’s resentment.
These bones were once left to die in a pit, taken into Egypt, and
sold as a slave. These bones, after they were led by wisdom into
power, weighed mercy and revenge after the brothers were forced
by famine out of their home. And the bones of these freed people
that carry Joseph’s now bear all these beautiful and tragic things as
the memories that surround trauma on every side. But when they
leave Egypt, they carry Joseph’s bones on a roundabout way toward
becoming a new, freer body.
Memories heavy as Joseph’s bones fill this world. There are fractures from what families have done to each other. There are breaks from what the powerful have done to enrich themselves. Some we’ll see have been fixed by ancestors who had the strength to set them right. But in this world, where our highest institutions keep the bones of some ancestors from going home, there are still more to carry on the way to promised lands.
Deep and interconnected histories have prepared the way for everybody. What stories do you need to remember to see the places you need to walk more clearly?
God, let our broken bones be healed, our lifeless bones be made to walk, and our fearful bones find the courage to carry us to freedom. Amen.