Friday, February 8, 2013

Some post Family camp thoughts


For the 10th February 2013 bulletin

Pastor's notes resumes :-)


Some post Family camp thoughts

For those who missed our family camp, the theme the camp committee chose was “Families are built not born”. While we are born or adopted into a family, the purpose of the theme was to remind us that there is a difference between being part of a family and feeling a part of a family. 2 days of working, playing, talking, worshipping, learning, relaxing and eating together (and for some of us snoring together), really did help many of us feel like a big family.

As we reflect on how to nurture and develop giving hearts (to build family / community), here’s some thoughts on family from Genesis 47:28-50:26 (which I have paraphrased from an article by Rabbi Shraga Simmons).

Jacob, realizing he is about to die, gathers his 12 sons to receive a blessing. But first, Jacob calls upon two of his grandchildren, Joseph's sons Ephraim and Manasseh to receive blessings, rather than his children. Jewish commentators explain (and every grandparent knows) that even more than the joy of having children is the joy of having grandchildren.

Most creatures in the world have parent-child relationships but only the human being has a concept of grandchildren, of perpetuation beyond a single generation. This is an effect of our spiritual soul which is rooted in infinity. Being a grandparent therefore connects us deeply to our uniqueness as human beings.

There is further significance to Jacob's blessings. One of the most beautiful customs in Jewish life is for parents to bless their children at the start of the Friday night Shabbat meal. Girls receive the blessing: "May God make you like the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah." Boys, meanwhile, are blessed "to be like Ephraim and Manasseh." Why were they chosen instead as the subjects of this important tradition, rather than Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?

According to classical Jewish commentators, it is because Ephraim and Manasseh were the first set of Jewish brothers who did not fight. Abraham's two sons, Isaac and Ishmael could not get along, and their disagreement forms the basis of the Arab-Israeli conflict until today. The next generation of Isaac's two sons, Jacob and Esau were in constant conflict and Esau even repeatedly sought to kill Jacob and instructed his descendants to do the same. And even the next generation of Jacob's sons sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt.

Ephraim and Manasseh represent a break from this pattern. In giving his blessings, Jacob purposely switched his hands, blessing the younger Ephraim before the older Manasseh to emphasize the point that with these siblings, there is no rivalry. (see Genesis 48:13-14)

It is with this thought that Jewish parents bless their children today because there is no greater blessing than peace among brothers. The words of King David in Psalm 133:1 ring true:  How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! 


May this be our experience as KCC  – no rivalry and pettiness bur rather peace, love and grace as a multi-generational family.


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