Saturday, 20 September 2014

Sermon September 21: Hope and Dreams

Genesis 39:1-23

What a week we have had!
What a week for our country – it has been a mixture of high emotions for all concerned.

I stayed up through the night, finally crawling to my bed around 3.30/ 4 am.... images of excited and dejected folks in my mind.
I awoke a few hours later just as the final results were being declared
And I watched on as the media retold the story over and over...

And, of course for me there was the added responsibility of recording this momentous day; responding to all that had happened, all that had gone before

And the irony of today’s bible reading for this week could not be escaped!

When I saw the reading weeks ago, when I was preparing the overview for the next few weeks I had to laugh... at God’s sense of humour!
The week before we have Abraham stepping out in faith into the unknown; the week after we have Joseph – the dreamer, the favoured, unjustly imprisoned, and now waiting patiently for God to bring about the change that is needed, to bring forward the opportunity needed for things to be put right...
This particular chapter in Joseph’s story contains many threads: slavery; hard work; honesty and integrity; temptation – and resisting it; and injustice: how one person’s action – in this case Potiphar’s wife saving face – can lead to misery and imprisonment for another.

Joseph’s whole life story is about a man blessed with a particular gift, and how even in the most unlikely and unpromising situations, God can still work; good things can still happen; and in the end the promise is fulfilled.

Joseph’s story is our story too.
We each are blessed with particular gifts – which we may not always recognise... yet because of these gifts we are drawn into places and situations we may never have dreamt of.

On Saturday, watching the interactions at our Church & Community Hobby Day was fascinating – crafters sharing tips; writers chatting with artists; others discovering new things – and the sheer delight of sharing stories and experiences.
This is what our lives are really about: stories. Each chapter of our lives leading on to the next; each adventure, each path that crosses with another.

Joseph was placed in Potiphar’s household from a place of privilege. His life was not that of a slave, of a bound man, yet that is where he ended up: sold into slavery, placed in a household and from there thrown into jail on a trumped up charge.
And yet in all of that Joseph remained strong, true, constant to the faith and the God he trusted.

This too is our story: our lives do not always go the way we hope or dream.
Plans fall by the wayside
Friends, loved ones leave us or reject us
Life throws unexpected obstacles into our paths. 

Some here today hoped, dreamed of a very different Friday to the one we got; others prayed hard for the day that came.

Both sides were praying for the outcome they truly hoped and believed was best. And here’s the rub!
Both side cannot both get what they want – life is not like that.
So what do we do?

In jail; outcast; alone Joseph did not give up; he did not feel sorry for himself, or blame God, or give up. Instead he played to his strengths; he had vision; he had skills and he used them, so that even in jail he was able to prosper, he was able to be the best he could in difficult and trying circumstances. And above all he was patient.
He waited patiently for God
And God blessed him.

And so must we too
We do not give up
We do not cast blame in every direction
We do not bemoan the fact that God did not answer one particular prayer
Instead we focus on what we do have
We have our skills and talents
We have a hope of a new start
We remember that we are united – we are one people, in one amazing beautiful country
We remember the incredible thing that happened this week – 84% of the population who were eligible turned out to vote – thousands of people engaged in the political process for the very first time; they exercised their rights and that is something to really celebrate.

If we can harness even a fraction of that enthusiasm, that hope and channel it into our united future – well, then I believe God will bless it; God will be with us every step of the way into whatever the new future brings.

We know the rest of the story of Joseph.
It does not end in a jail cell
His patience and constancy is rewarded, and he continues to prosper
He is reunited with his whole family
Reunited and reconciled

That is my prayer for our community, our nation
To be patient and constant
To reach a point of unity and reconciliation so we can build together on what we have
And go forward together into that future under one faith, one hope, One God.


1 comment:

  1. Amen, may there be peace and unity even as one can hope for movement into a new way of being.