|Twelve Tribe Window|
Las Cruces, NM
|Twelve Tribe Window|
“The years of my sojourn [on Earth] are one hundred and thirty. Few and hard have been the years of my life, nor do they come up to the life-spans of my fathers during their sojourns.” After seeing Joseph for the first time in many years, it was clear that Jacob wasn’t quite ready to convey or even feel relief and joy at the reunification of his family. Eventually, he would find that contentment after living for a time in Egypt. Jacob would bless his sons with individual characterizations that conveyed their personality, expressions that are portrayed in the stained-glass windows here on the bimah. My favorite statement from Jacob is his blessing of his grandsons, “May God make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh.” At that moment, Jacob could have told them all about himself and focused on his own life experiences, recounting his challenges and the travail that he felt when he spoke to Pharaoh. Instead, he was ready to look towards the future. When he brought the two boys close to him, he created a memorable encounter that solidified the link between them and their family, all the way back to their great-great grandparents. In telling them that future generations would offer blessing using THEIR names, Jacob thrust Ephraim and Manasseh into the spotlight, a central position that would require them to visibly preserve the heritage that was being handed down to them. They would need to discover God as Jacob had at Beth-El. They would need to wrestle with God or with themselves to reach their highest potential. They would also, hopefully, retain and nurture the faith that began with Abraham’s realization that the existence of one God could lead them to a vision of one humanity that would, one day, find peace.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jacob in the bible left something significant to their followers and their family that would stay with them for the coming generations. As we consider our own legacies, who will carry on our mission? Who will take our achievements and add their own enhancing touch to them in a way that honors us? Who will learn from our wisdom and values? Who will be inspired by our vision of a promised land to the point of engaging in action that will make real the goals for which we have worked throughout our lives? There are likely people whom we know or whom we don’t know who share our values, who will apply those principles in a way that will spread kindness, goodness, understanding, and a richness of spirit that constitutes a promised land that will offer many members of the human family help and hope. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and like Jacob, we will not fear, because all we are and all we do will offer blessing to everyone around us. May that be the legacy we leave.