Monday, February 25, 2019

Epiphany 7C

Genesis 45:3-11, 15

1Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, "Send everyone away from me." So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it.

3Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?" But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

4Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come closer to me." And they came closer. He said, "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, 'Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 10You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children's children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11I will provide for you there -- since there are five more years of famine to come -- so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.'"

15And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
The church's year of grace has reached the seventh Sunday after Epiphany; this has been an exceptionally long epiphany season that will conclude next week with Transfiguration. And then? Ash Wednesday followed by six Sundays in (but not of) Lent. More about the shape, history, and purpose of Lent when that time arrives.

Although today's gospel reading continues Jesus' sermon on the plain from Luke, We'll briefly study the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible first lesson that's a small segment of the story of Jacob's son Joseph that spans Genesis 37 through 50.

Joseph as a Type of Christ

Joseph is about forgiveness, reconciliation, and newness. Joseph is very much like Jesus. Joseph's behavior and attitude is similar to the be-attitudes Jesus calls us to in his sermon on the mount (in Matthew) and his sermon on the plain (in Luke) we'll continue reading today.

We often refer to characters in scriptures as "types" or images/icons of Jesus Christ. For example:

ยช Adam – firstborn of the old Creation // Jesus – firstborn of the new creation.

• Moses and Ten Commandments on Mount Horeb/Mount Sinai // Jesus as the new Moses in several senses that include sermon on the mount, the new exodus of liberating humanity and all creation from bondage of several kinds.

• David the shepherd who later becomes king // Jesus as the new shepherd, new king.

• Jeremiah the weeping prophet // Jesus weeping over Jerusalem.

• And there are more—Martin Luther read Jesus into almost every sentence of the OT!

Living in Empire

The story of Joseph and his brothers is about living well and fruitfully under empire (in this case Egypt). Last year we talked a little about Ezra and Nehemiah living well under another empire when they returned after Babylon. It's impossible to escape influence of empires, whether they're national governments (Babylon, Persia, Rome, Spain, Great Britain) or transnational corporations (Monsanto, Bayer, Nestle...). Because we can't escape into a bubble or to a remote island, we need to find ways to live and sometimes thrive whether it's resistance or even some degree of cooperation. In the Joseph narrative, with famine all around, they had no choice but to go to a place where crops would grow and they could be fed.

Joseph and forgiveness – Jesus and us – God reconciling and resurrecting

Pastor Peg did a fairly complete but quick(!) Joseph summary. You need to read the whole entire thing in Genesis 37-50! You'll notice some backtracking and repetitions that occur because Genesis was compiled from different separate sources.

Joseph's brother had intended serious harm (as in killing him) to Joseph, but Joseph was wise enough to recognize the action of God's Spirit of life in redeeming an incredibly bad situation. in today's reading, Joseph keeps giving God the credit; in fact, in the last chapter of Genesis, chapter 50, Joseph again credits God.

In spite of us, in spite of other people, in spite of circumstances, God heals, mends, renews, resurrects. Because of time constraints, we're not hearing 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50 (today's second reading) that's the apostle Paul's assurance of resurrection from the dead. For Paul, the gospel is death and resurrection!

Final note: God even redeems (literally takes back, buys back) death into new life!

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