I was meant to be leading prayers at Glasgow Uni this morning. Due to snow, it the University is closed, so I'm staying home.
So, instead I'll do it from home!
The hymn I chose (but not the tune in CH4!)
The reading I was set:
Genesis 45: 16 - end
When the report was heard in Pharaoh’s house, ‘Joseph’s brothers have come’, Pharaoh and his servants were pleased. Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Say to your brothers, “Do this: load your animals and go back to the land of Canaan. Take your father and your households and come to me, so that I may give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you may enjoy the fat of the land.” You are further charged to say, “Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. Give no thought to your possessions, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.” ’
The sons of Israel did so. Joseph gave them wagons according to the instruction of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey. To each one of them he gave a set of garments; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five sets of garments. To his father he sent the following: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provision for his father on the journey. Then he sent his brothers on their way, and as they were leaving he said to them, ‘Do not quarrel along the way.’
So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. And they told him, ‘Joseph is still alive! He is even ruler over all the land of Egypt.’ He was stunned; he could not believe them. But when they told him all the words of Joseph that he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. Israel said, ‘Enough! My son Joseph is still alive. I must go and see him before I die.’
The thoughts I'd have 'blagged'
This is a story about reconciliation, about letting go of the past and looking forward. A story with a surprise happy ending (though of course because we know the story, there is no surprise). It's a story that can be heart-warming and encouraging, and can also be too-good-to-be-true leaving us dismayed by our own less happy stories.
On a snowy day, when our lives are disrupted by inconvenience, it is encouraging to hear good news stories of people handing out food and drink to those stranded in cars, of people taking in strangers for the night, of babies safely delivered by their fathers. It is also sobering to hear stories of homeless people freezing to death because no shelter can be found. Perhaps the broader 'Joseph story' reminds us of both the good and ill of which people are capable, and the need choose the ways of peace, hope reconciliation and love.
The practice is then to pray for the University...
God of all times and all places, in this day when the University if closed due to bad weather, we pray firstly for the staff who have made their way into work despite the obstacles caused by the snow: may they be kept safe and warm, and return home without hindrance.
We pray for those who had expected to take exams today, or to hand in assignments, and may be anxious. Grant them peace, a restful weekend and the assurance that all will be well.
We pray for everyone who is part of this university, cleaners, caters, security staff, estates workers, teachers, students, researchers, administrators, librarians, technicians... those we know of and those to whom we are oblivious. Be with them and watch over them today and always. Amen