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When Things Come Undone - November 19, 2017

Genesis 37 - Joseph's Story

When I was little, we used to get together with my extended family for the big holidays. And when we did, it was always a lesson in genealogy and family history. My dad is one of 4, and his dad was one of 5 and his mom was one of 3. All together we'd be 60 or 70 people at my aunt's house. And we only saw each other once or twice a year, so we were regularly asking "who is that?" "Who is he related to?" We became well versed in who was first cousins, second cousins, first cousins once removed and second

cousins once removed. It wasn't just about knowing titles, but knowing who was who helped you to know a little backstory.
I think for a lot of us when we get into the Old Testament, we need a little family history lesson. We only see these characters every once in awhile, so when we do, we need a refresher. So, before we get into this story here's the family tree. Jacob is the son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham and he is the one who stole the blessing of his brother Esau. And when Jacob couldn't stay at home because he lied to his dad and cheated his brother, his mom Rebecca sent him away to her cousin Laban. While Jacob was working for Laban, he fell in love with Laban's daughter Rebecca and asked Laban if he could marry her. Laban said sure after you do 7 years of work for me, then you can marry my daughter. So Jacob stuck around and worked that time and went back to Laban ready to marry his daughter. At which point Laban said, well, I have two daughters and Leah is the eldest, and we don't marry the younger before we marry the elder, so you can marry Leah. Jacob wasn't happy, but he didn't have an option. So he married Leah, but still really loved Rachel. Laban told him he could have Rachel as a wife as well if he worked another 7 years. So he did. So Jacob had two wives—the sisters Leah and Rachel. One he loved and one he really loved.

Aren't family dynamics grand!

Jacob had kids with both Rachel and Leah. Joseph is the firstborn of Rachel, Jacob's true love. And he's one of 12 boys, and they're all in the shepherding family. Their daily job is tending to the sheep. It's a dirty, outside farming job. And one day Jacob gives Joseph one of his finest robes (not really technicolor). And that robe sends a clear message, Joseph shouldn't be working in the fields. He's too good for that and his robe proves that. And so the drama continues...the brothers (rightfully?) get jealous and seek to figure out how to knock their brother off his high horse. So they take him out, steal his coat, sell him as a slave, and tell their dad he's dead. It's the perfect pretend murder.

Joseph was picked up as a slave and, despite being the favored and spoiled child, he was actually a hard worker. He was faithful and worked hard and became favored there too. And someone else got jealous and mean and accused him of abuse, so he was sent to jail. Where he continued to show good character and kindness, despite the injustices. In the midst of it all, God had given him a of being able to interpret dreams. So, when he was in jail and two of the king's most trusted men ended up in jail and had dreams they couldn't make sense of, Joseph was able to interpret the dream for them. Which didn't matter much...until a couple of years later when the king's men had been released and Joseph hadn't and the king had a dream, and the man happened to remember that guy from jail who could interpret the dream. Joseph got out, interpreted the dream and the famine that was to come and the need to store as much as possible to help the people survive. And Joseph was right and the king and his people did as Joseph had recommended...and Joseph won favor once again.
If we didn't know all of Joseph's story, it might be easy to believe he's one of those guys with a golden touch that everyone loves and he never suffers anything. But the reality is that he suffered a lot. Every time he gets to a place of safety and stability, someone knocks him down and he suffers a lot. Nevertheless, he remains faithful. His core is good. He is someone of kindness, wisdom, and care no matter how awful people are to him.
The ultimate test comes when his brothers and their families are suffering in the famine and they have to reach out to a foreign land for help. They happen to go where Joseph is a leader....asking for help from this man who appears as a stranger. They have no idea whom they are asking. But there's Joseph, standing in front of his brothers...with the power to decide their fate as they decided his....he could tell them no, let them suffer and starve. Or he could bless them with the abundance they had saved up. That's a whole lot of power. And a spiteful man, one bitter at what they had done, would have let them suffer. Left them in a ditch, so to speak, but Joseph didn't. Joseph chose the high road, chose love and compassion instead. He spared his brothers and their families.
So how does his story matter for us....well...for a lot of the biblical stories, we are invited to find ourselves in the narrative...are we Joseph? betrayed and abandoned? Forced to recreate ourselves with unknown people in a foreign land? Or are we the brothers? Treated as less than? Embittered? and spiteful? Who are we in the midst of our own families? Have we chosen love or have we chosen vengeance? Do we see God despite our circumstances or do we look for God no matter what? Who are you? And who might you have to deal with this week for the holiday? Are you excited to see them? Or grinning to bear it? Afraid of who might retaliate? Ready to forgive and bless? Or full of ugly thoughts? Who are you? And who will you choose to be? Will you be full of grace and compassion? Will you choose the high road? Will you be faithful to God even though it feels God may have left you?

Current Church News

  • FUMC Auction & Dinner - Friday, October 19th

    The first Missions Auction and Dinner was so fun, we are going to do it again! Mark you calendars for Friday, October 19th at the Latah County Fair grounds. Like last year we will be serving dinner and having a silent and live auction. The Missions Auction helps support local nonprofits, including: Family Promise, Sojourner’s Alliance, My Little Pantry, Alternatives to Violence and more. All money raised at this event goes to mission projects with no overhead or fees taken out. Please help support our neighbors and friends in need. Tickets on sale soon!

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Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary . William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

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The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...