Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020) is someone I looked up to, as do many people in this country. She was tenacious, determined, hard working and clung to her principles. She worked tirelessly for what she believed in. She is an unlikely hero who battled furiously in the courtroom and taught her students and law clerks much about the law and standing up for your values. She became known as the Notorious RBG – a play on the name of a rapper. While she didn’t seek this notoriety, she lived into it and used it to the best of her ability to continue fighting for justice.
We live in a troubled, broken world, just as Joseph did in the story that begins in Genesis 37. Joseph is the favorite, Joseph taunts his brothers, they seek revenge. But in an unexpected turn of events years later, they meet again. Joseph would have been perfectly justified in holding a grudge and using his authority to make their lives miserable. But he instead forgives them. A seemingly simple act, but so hard to do.
When we are able to gather for worship, we say these words to God and to one another: “We confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves…Forgive us, renew us, and lead us…” (ELW p. 95) God not only listens but God wholly forgives us, wiping the slate clean and restoring our relationship. We too can grant that kind of forgiveness to those who have wronged us. We can ask God for courage to face the things that we have done and seek forgiveness from our neighbors. As Joseph says what you intended for harm, God can use for good.