Summary: The sermon’s aim is to push persons to look at the concept of family and to assess where one is as it relates to family interaction.

All families are not alike or are they? (Genesis 37:1-4)

During this time of year, families normally come together for family reunions and other family gatherings. And, on yesterday, Saturday, July 6, 2002, I had an opportunity to watch as did many of you a tennis match featuring the William sisters, Venus and Serena.

These two young women have become dominant figures in women’s tennis and are ranked as high as number one and number two in the world among professional women tennis players. As has been the case each time these two sisters play each other in

a tennis match, there was an abundance of speculation. Critics, commentators and others alike prior to the start of the tennis match and even during it were asking questions such as, “Has the winner of this tennis match already been predetermined?” “Will Venus win her third straight Wimbledon title?” Or, will Serena defeat Venus again just as she did a month ago in the finals of the French Open?”

There were also questions as to whether the

young ladies would play with the same type of intensity that they play other opponents?

These questions surfaced simply because the media and others alike have been given the impression by both Venus the elder sister at 22 and Serena, the younger of the two at 20 that they were extremely close. So close that it was alleged at times that the

two women did not play to the best of their abilities because of their love and adoration for one another.

After one tie breaker in the first set and a convincing second set win, Serena, the younger of the two came out victorious over her older sister Venus. From my standpoint, the better tennis player on this day won. These young women appeared to play their hearts out and only one could be crowned the 2002 Women’s Champ of Wimbledon. From my perspective, whatever questions had surfaced either prior to the start of this match or even during the match should have been addressed.

The reason this story is being included with this biblical passage is because it is a clear cut indicator that all sibling rivalries do not have to be bitter. I am sure that when Richard Williams, Venus and Serena’s father predicted that his two daughters would be the two best professional female tennis players in the world, he did not have any idea that

they would have generated as much attention as they have.

Mind you, Richard obviously was a dreamer. Given the humble beginnings that the two young women came from, one can only admire and respect Richard to the utmost for how he along with his wife have helped to rear such fine young women who happen to be professional tennis players of African American descent.

Even with all of the attention from the media and others around them, Venus and Serena have not allowed external forces or opinions to interfere with their relationship as sisters. Even in defeat, Venus was gracious with praise for her sister as Serena has

been when she lost to Venus on other occasions.

Yes, these are siblings and technically every time they play one another in a tennis match it will always be considered as a sibling rivalry. But, these two women have proven that you can be family members and also be competitive and still love each other

after the competition is over. The entire Williams family should be applauded for how these young women have and continue to handle themselves while competing in the sport of women’s tennis both against other opponents and themselves.

The same cannot be said for the family that I read about earlier in our scriptural passage. These individuals also grew up together but it appears that the sibling rivalry that was going on with them was not as cordial as Venus and Serena’s sibling rivalry.

Just as Richard Williams is viewed as the matriarch and catalyst for Venus and Serena’s success in women’s tennis, Jacob is viewed as the matriarch and catalyst for what occurred in our passage of scripture.

The passage indicates to us that Jacob and his family were living in a territory that he had inherited from his father. It also points out that Joseph the younger of Jacob’s sons had earned their father’s affection. As a result of Joseph’s relationship with Jacob, Joseph’s sibling became disgruntled and began to hate their younger brother.

Could this have been avoided? Perhaps it could have but as the story goes, because Joseph was born in the latter stages of Jacob’s life, he held a special place in his father’s heart. This was definitely to the chagrin of Joseph’s siblings.

One lesson that we can learn very quickly from this family is that it is not always good to play favorites in a home or family. There are times when playing favorites or exhibiting affection for one child over another or others can create problems not only for the child being favored but perhaps for the family as a whole as we can later discover in this chapter of scripture.

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