I am Joseph, son of Jacob as I recover from the death of my father and begin to reconcile with my brothers. (Genesis 50).
I feel sick in my stomach; I can’t believe dad is dead. After all this time has passed, I never got to spend the quality time I wanted to with him. I can still remember the good memories that I had with him when I was still a child. I loved my father so much, and I miss him more than word can describe. I can still remember a particular gift that he had given me when I was young. He gave me this beautiful coat. It had so many bright beautiful colors on it. It was bright gold, red, and green, with thin black stripes between each color. My name was stitched on the top right of it. That was the best gift dad had ever given me.
I can still remember when my brothers stripped me of my coat that dad had given me. They jumped me out of nowhere. At first I thought they were joking with me, but when I looked at Rueben, I could see something was wrong. He wouldn’t look me in my eyes. I could tell something was wrong. Now here we are as a family all back together again. I have so many mixed feelings, so many things to process; so many thoughts are just flying through me head.
I wonder if we will ever be able to be a normal family again. Despite all the terrible things that my brothers did to me, I really just want to have my family back. I have had a lot of time to deal with what they did to me. Honestly, it still hurts, I mean they are my own blood and they just did me wrong, as if I was a stranger to them. I know they did not like the dreams I shared with them, but they were from God, it wasn’t my dreams, I never wanted to disrespect them or insult them. Now here we are, and they are all bowing down to me, just as the dream said.
What was God thinking? Was this the only way to work out your plan? If you loved me so much God, then why did you take everything from me, why did you allow me to go through all that hardship, all that pain? I was always faithful to you God, why did you turn your back on me when I needed you most? When I was in the pit where, were you then? When I was sold into slavery where, were you then? And when I was in Jail, where were you then?
Yet even though I have had to go through so many troubles, I can’t deny God’s hand on my life as well as my families. It is though God had a mission that he was working out through my suffering and hardships. It’s as though my suffering was the birth to life and opportunity for me and my family. Here I am with my brothers eating well, feasting, and living in luxury during one of the worst famines the region has ever seen. It was God who brought me to this point. It was God that spared my family, and reunited me with my brothers. And so it is evident that God’s hand and blessing was upon me even during some of my most terrifying life experiences. I praise God that he has taken me from the lowest depths to the highest heights!!!
My brothers approached me today fearfully, and threw themselves down into the dirt before me. They begged and pleaded with me to take them into my house so that they could serve me as my slaves. While I am still hurting and figuring this whole thing out, I really do sincerely forgive them for what they have done. And I really just want to have them back into my life as family, as my brothers. God has worked this thing out, and so how can I hold a grudge against them when God’s mission was being fulfilled through it all. I have come to realize that even though they “intended to harm me” that was only half the story because in that same action there was God who “intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20, TNIV).
Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD
Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well.
Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance.
His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign.
Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today.
His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action.
Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo.
Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.
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