Rev. Dr. Greg Dawson has served as a pastor in several churches and is currently serving as a hospice chaplain in the greater Springfield area.
Scripture: Genesis 37 1-4, 12-28 (NRSV)
Joseph Dreams of Greatness
Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. This is the story of the family of Jacob.
Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.
Joseph Is Sold by His Brothers
Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. And Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ So he said to him, ‘Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.’ So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.
He came to Shechem, and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, ‘What are you seeking?’ ‘I am seeking my brothers,’ he said; ‘tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.’ The man said, ‘They have gone away, for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.’ But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, ‘Let us not take his life.’ Reuben said to them, ‘Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him’—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.
Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.
Reflection: God's Greatest Stories
Have you ever read a book you couldn’t put down until it was finished? You get caught up in the story, the characters and the author’s style of writing. You just have to know how this story will end. I read a lot of books, and so I can often times guess how a book will end before I get there. There are only so many plots after all, and prolific authors have a tendency to repeat the way they unravel a story. Even real life stories seem to be repeated over and over again. A school shooting, another black man dies at the hands of white police officers, protestors gather for and against. As these stories are told again and again, we can find ourselves longing to jump to the final chapter, to seek a resolving conclusion to this never ending story.
The story we read in Genesis 37 could have just as easily been written today. Jealousy, hatred, and a young man’s future destroyed by those who should have protected him. And at this point in Genesis, we might be tempted to put down this story believing that we could predict its final conclusion. After all, evil leads to evil, and nothing ever seems to change for the better. And so it might have seemed to Joseph as he was dragged off to Egypt to be sold as a slave. But then the plot turn arrives. A dream interpreted by Joseph leads to a seat of power. The gang of conspiring brothers are brought low by a global draught and must come to him with hats in hand to buy food. How tempted Joseph must have been to make his brothers pay, to exact his vengeance upon them. But then he sees his beloved younger brother and hears that his father is still alive; and in that moment his hurting, raging heart melts.
It is in the human heart where God writes the greatest stories – the repeating story of healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption. It can seem at times that the world never changes; but when God writes upon the human heart, those living in darkness seek out the light, the broken are made whole, people repent of their evil ways and choose the narrow path. Though the world around us may seem to never change, we who live in this world can be transformed. It is the gift of grace that the healing of one soul, our soul, can and will lead to the healing of the world.
Loving God, let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving for the more than 150,000 victims of the Covid-19 disease
- For those suffering from mental illness
- For those at risk from the storms in the Atlantic as they threaten flooding and wind damage
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For emergency response personnel who risk their lives in service to others
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
First Congregational Church of Litchfield, Litchfield, CT
Milton Congregational Church, Litchfield, CT
Newent Congregational Church, Lisbon, CT
Chapel Street Congregational UCC, Lincoln, RI
The First Parish in Lincoln, Lincoln, MA
Hancock United Church of Christ, Lexington, MA
Pilgrim Congregational Church, Lexington, MA
First Congregational Church of Leverett, Leverett, MA
Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC, Leominster, MA
The Congregational Church of Christ, Leominster, MA
Church on the Hill, UCC, Lenox, MA
This Week in History:
August 6, 1945 (75 years ago) The United States drops an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The first ever nuclear bomb to be deployed in combat killed an estimated 140,000 in a blast equivalent to more than 12,000 pounds of TNT. The force of the blast destroyed nearly 70% of the city and instantly killed an estimated 60,000-70,000 people. It remains the most destructive and deadly single moment in war to date. Days after the bomb was dropped, author J.R.R .Tolkien would write these words in a letter to his son Christopher: "The utter folly of these lunatic physicists to consent to do such work for war-purposes: calmly plotting the destruction of the world!"
“Study the past if you would define the future.”