Grace and Peace to All,
Our readings for this coming Sunday are:
Genesis 45:1-15 – The Lectionary skips a huge chunk of the Jacob (aka Israel) and Joseph saga. Yesterday’s reading (Genesis 37) was about Joseph being betrayed by his 10 older brother and sold into slavery. Genesis 38 is a wonderfully delightful tale of sexual intrigue by Tamar, the granddaughter-in-law of Jacob and the daughter-in-law of Judah. Genesis 39 returns to the story of Joseph who is now a slave to Potiphar, an Egyptian captain of the guard. More sexual intrigue here as Potiphar’s wife, unnamed, wants Joe but he refuses her advances. She accuses him of rape and Pot has Joe imprisoned. The jailer likes Joe allows him to care for all the prisoners. In chapter 40, Joe accurately interprets some dreams of the official cupbearer and the chief baker. Unfortunately, Joe remains in jail. In chapter 41, the Pharaoh has dreams of seven fat cows and seven thin, ugly cows which nobody can figure out. Joe, who now has a reputation as a dream interpreter, is brought before him and makes the correct interpretation. Delighted, the Pharaoh releases Joe from prison and gives him authority to oversee the preparations during seven bountiful years for the seven years of famine which follow. In chapters 42 to 44, Jacob’s family suffers from the region wide drought and the ten oldest brothers go to Egypt to beg for grain from our hero, Joe, but they don’t recognize him. Joe grants their request but tells them not to return without their youngest brother, Benjamin (Joe’s little brother). Of course, they return with Ben and Joe frames Ben for theft. Knowing that going back to Jacob without Ben would kill Jacob, Judah offers to give himself over in place of Ben. That bring us to our reading for this week: the big reveal! At the end of the reading Joe tells his brothers to go get Jacob and that is how the Israelites (the clan of Jacob) got to be in Egypt for next week’s reading. Chapters 46-50 records the travels of the clan to Egypt, settling in Goshen for the famine, the death of Jacob at the ripe old age of 147, the brothers taking Jacob’s body to be buried with Rachel, Joe’s reassuring his brothers that all is well, and the death of Joe at the maybe not so ripe age of 110. Next up: Moses!
Psalm 133 – A psalm of how unity within a family (or church or denomination?) brings blessings from the Lord.
Isaiah 56:1, 6-8 – The Lord promises to bless the foreigners who follow him and to gather together outcasts and others to his house, “for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
Psalm 67 – God’s graciousness and blessings are for all peoples and nations and they are called to give their praise and reverence to him.
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 – In chapters 9 through 11, Paul has been working through a difficult understanding that his Jewish brothers and sisters have, for the most part, rejected the Gospel of Jesus. He comes to the understanding that the promise given to Israel is also for Gentiles and that there is still hope for Israel, whom God has not rejected. If God’s gifts and calling are “irrevocable” and we are all imprisoned in disobedience so God may be merciful to all, then is everyone saved (universal salvation)? Paul’s statements in these short verses are very intriguing, to say the least.
Matthew 15:(10-20), 21-28 – There are two parts to this reading. The optional part is about how what we say can “defile” us or others. The second part is Jesus’ encounter with a Canaanite woman, or in other words, a Gentile woman. She is desperate to have Jesus heal her dying daughter. Jesus seems to have no compassion for her and implies (somewhat rudely?) that she and her daughter are dogs. Yet, she is not dissuaded and argues that even dogs eat the crumbs of the master. Amazed at her faith, he heals the daughter at a distance. One blogger suggests that we shouldn’t be upset when Jesus is a bit rude (Is it okay to notice that Jesus can be a jerk sometimes?). Others have suggested that this episode can show us the human side of Jesus and that he can grow in his understanding of what God calls him to do. What is your take on this short vignette?
Have a blessed week in the service of the Lord!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor