Genesis 29:18-35, Deuteronomy 10:12-22, Psalm 5
Jacob found himself in a strange situation. The wife he thought he had spent 7 years of his life to earn the right to marry was not the one his father-in-law had presented to him. Laban set up a dysfunctional marriage (two, actually) by doing this. The sisters would be competing for their husband’s affections. Children became trophies over the other sister. Yet, God chose these children born in a family of broken relationships to become (eventually) the leaders of a tribe that changed the world.
All of us have experiences of family brokenness, whether it was our immediate family, extended family, spouse’s family, the family of a friend, or the family that we have in the church. Sadly, the majority of human relationships involve brokenness, whether ours or someone else’s.
In the midst of his last commission to the Israelites, Moses brings in two forms of brokenness. The first is in the form of family: fatherless and widowed. This truly would be a sign of familial brokenness, as there were no family to take care of: children with no parents, and widows with no children. In a culture that valued family, and relied upon family to function, this was catastrophic. The orphaned and widowed could be viewed as cursed. Being so alone without family was inconceivable. Then Moses goes a step further and brings in the foreigner. This person, whether by war, slavery, abandonment, fleeing, was not only not with family, they were among people of completely different families.
The orphan, the widow and the foreigner were the ultimate example of broken family connections, as they had none. Even today, we avoid those that are different than we are. There is something in the case of orphaned, widowed and foreigner (even in the U.S., a country of immigrants) that triggers some of our deepest fears and insecurities.
Moses calls on the Israelites to love them anyways. As we are called through the love of God, we are also called to live this life of love.
1) How can we show love to others?
2) Orphaned, widowed and foreigner are relational terms. Think beyond their immediate definition. For example, the foreigner may be the new person in the neighborhood, at work or at church. Who are the orphaned, widowed and foreigner that God has placed in your lives?
3) Why do we often get so obsessed with the differences between ourselves and others, rather than focus on the similarities?
KD) How do welcome and love people different from you?