What are you looking for in life? I am looking for my brothers.
For the past months, I have been haunted by a sentence uttered by Joseph when a man found him in the fields and asked him what he was looking for. He replied “I am looking for my brothers.” (Genesis 37:16)
In this age we find so much intimacy but so little faithfulness; so much connectivity but so little connection; so many friendship networks but so few friends. In this age where there is so little family and so much loneliness, this cry rings true: “I am looking for my brothers.” I think this is one of those iconic phrases that captures a longing in the alienated heart of man.
Part of St Aldates’ vision is to build real community at the heart of a scattered city. We dream of extended families and faithful friendships – we are looking for our brothers (and our sisters of course.) Wouldn’t it be a miracle to achieve this again in Oxford in the 21st century? I invite you to look with me. For me, our ‘brothers’ are those in our own family; those in our church family; those in other churches in Oxford (hence ‘Love Oxford’). I have a deep love for all Christians. I long to see the body of Christ be truly ‘one’ on the earth. Not an official superficial nodding acquaintance but a heart unity of the Acts 2 city church. We are looking for our brothers.
David was also looking for his brothers, out in the fields where he killed the giant. And then Jesus came. I believe that down through the ages, he was looking to seek and save His brothers. He came in undying courage to bring back humanity under one head, even Christ. Looking for my brothers means that I am on the lookout for those who are not yet Christians: my potential brothers; my future adopted family members. They may not be looking for us. Joseph was looking for his brothers: but they weren’t looking for him. In fact, when he found them, they beat him and sold him to slave traders. But in the end they were reconciled. I still get moved to tears when I read that reconciliation scene of Joseph and his brothers in Egypt during a famine in which God restores all that has been so broken in one family. It is such a picture of what Christ does for us: deep joy! And let us be encouraged: as He has promised, it will happen.
So: in my family, I am looking; in St Aldates, I am looking (I have been missing you incredibly having been absent from you for 3 Sundays); in Oxford, I am looking. I am looking for my brothers. In the city, I’m looking for lost people; those brothers yet to be found. I am looking for my brothers. Beyond the city, I am looking for this nation and even now, for the nations of Europe. I’m looking for my brothers.
I invite you; let us go ‘looking’ together. Of course it takes time; it takes effort and emotion to look. Let us start this week by picking up the phone and calling someone; a real, missing or potential brother or sister. Let us be Christ-like, let us ‘love’ Oxford.
With love as ever in Christ
Charlie & Anita Cleverly