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“Then Esau ran to meet Jacob, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” Genesis 33:4

In case you’re not up on your Biblical stories, we witness here the reconciliation of two brothers. It was said that Jacob emerged from the womb second, holding onto the heel of his fraternal twin Esau. From their childhood, Jacob wanted to be first, wanted to be the favorite, wanted the blessing and inheritance from his father that would rightly go to Esau. As Esau slipped into the world first, enmity shaped their unfolding stories.

When the men became grown, Jacob tricked his aging and nearly blind father into blessing him instead of his brother. Jacob placed fur on his chest to deceive his father into believing that Jacob was his hairy brother Esau. The inheritance, wrongly given, could not be rescinded, and so the deception became complete.

         This rich and complex story resonates on so many levels with our own. In Genesis 33, we read about the reunion of two brothers so alienated from one another that Jacob fully expected Esau to kill him when they finally met. Terror overtook Jacob, as his rightfully angry brother approached with 400 men. But Esau did not kill his brother. Instead, he embraced him. He forgave him. He let go of the judgment that keeps any life mean and small. This mercy overwhelmed Jacob. He tried to make amends by giving his wronged brother a great portion of this wealth. Though Esau at first refused, he eventually agreed to receive it at Jacob’s insistence. What Esau wanted most was the return of his brother, whom he thought had been lost to him forever.

         When we feel that we have been wronged, we humans have a tendency to puff ourselves up, to make ourselves big with the heady power we experience when we believe we’re in the right. When we have been slighted, or disappointed by someone we care about, then we may want them to change what they are doing and bring their behavior into alignment with our expectations. We may quietly harbor the judgment that we’re somehow better than they are, and applaud ourselves for our generosity if and when we choose to forgive them.

         There’s none of that in this Biblical story. The power of this reconciliation story between Jacob and Esau, is the unconditional love extended by the wronged brother to the one who harmed him. Esau’s love for Jacob does not remind him of all that he’s done. He doesn’t recount the story of Jacob’s deception. He refuses to receive Jacob’s offer to essentially give him back the inheritance in livestock, until Jacob insists. Esau wants nothing more that the chance to love his brother once again.

         “And Jesus said, ‘Love one another, love one another, love one another, as I have loved you.” Apparently, that is sufficient.

Prayer: God of heaven and earth, strengthen our faith and increase our love for one another, that we may serve you faithfully all the days of our lives. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Verlee