Bulletin 2 by Pastor Katy Stenta

Drive in Worship September 20th 2020
Announcements
Call to Worship
Give thanks to the Lord and Call on the name of God
Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord Rejoice

Spirit 319
Spirit, Spirit of gentleness,
Blow through the wilderness, calling and free
Spirit, Spirit of restlessness, Stir me from placidness,
Wind, Wind on the sea

  1. You move the waters,You called to the deep
    Then You coaxed up the mountains
    From the valleys of sleep And over the eons
    You called to each thing, Awake from your slumbers
    And rise on your wings
  2. You swept through the desert, You stung with the sand
    And You gifted your people, With a law and a land
    And when they were blinded with their idols and lies,
    Then You spoke through Your prophets
    To open their eyes
  3. You call from tomorrow, You break ancient schemes,
    From the bondage of sorrow. The captives dream dreams
    Our women see visions, Our men clear their eyes.
    With bold new decisions, Your people arise.

Genesis 37:20-28, 50:15-21
(1 finger)’Here comes this dreamer. 20Come 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.’
(2 fingers)’but when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, ‘Let us not take his life.’
(3 fingers) 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.
(4 fingers) Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27Come, 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.
(5 fingers) 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.
(Pastor Katy) Joseph was enslaved, abused by his owner’s wife and eventually imprisoned. There he told the prisoners who would be punished and set free according to their dreams. Eventually the Pharaoh heard and freed him, listening to the dreams of Pharaoh Joseph foretold a drought, so that only Egypt was ready for it. For this reason, Joseph’s brothers journeyed to Egypt for food.
(6 fingers) Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, ‘What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?’
(7 fingers) So they approached* Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17“Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.” Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.’
(8 fingers) Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
(9 fingers) Then his brothers also wept,* fell down before him, and said, ‘We are here as your slaves.’
(10 fingers) But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.’ In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

Children’s Sermon

Sermon “God with All of Us” Pastor Katy Stenta

God, only you would bring a feuding family together and find a way to bless and reunite them. As we live with suspicion and in a divided nation, we pray that you teach us how to be gracious and forgiving. We pray that we don’t refuse to help one another out of prejudices or hate, and we pray that you order all things for good. We pray this using the prayer your son taught us. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom and Power and the Glory Forever. Amen.

O God of Every Nation 289

  1. O God of every nation, of every race and land
    Redeem the whole the creation with Your almighty hand
    Where hate and fear divide us And bitter threats are hurled
    In love and mercy guide us And heal our strife torn world
  2. From search for wealth and power and scorn of truth and right
    From trust in bombs that shower destruction through the night
    From pride of race and station and blindness to Your way
    Deliver every nation, Eternal God we pray.
  3. Keep bright in us the the vision of days when war shall cease
    When hatred and division, Give way to love and peace
    Till dawns the morning glorious When peace on earth shall reign
    And Christ shall rule victorious O’er all the world’s domain

Bulletin 1 by Rev. Dr Barb Hedges-Goettl, God of the Rainbow Coat Prayer, More Narrative Lectionary Resources

Bulletin 1 with Sermon

More Narrative Lectionary Resources

Prelude Arise, Your Light is Come
https://youtu.be/pDLOLH6LhaI?list=TLPQMTMwOTIwMjDl93yM-R7ESA

Opening Prayer (1)
Light-giving God, We lumber together in hope as Your church to lift Your Light. Let us lift not the light of our congratulation of ourselves, not the light of belief in our own superiority, not the light of our belief in our own narrow presuppositions, not even the light of our own church.
 
Let us lift the light from You, the light of the power You make known to us
in the truth of our powerlessness, learning to be at ease with You.
 
Let this be the light we lift as a beacon in the darkness we know best.
As we lift that light, may we too be lifted to know
the true power that lies among us
waiting to rise as a beacon of our true hope. Amen.

Call to Worship (from 1 John 1) (2)
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you:
God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true.
God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 
7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 
God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 
Let us worship and live together in the light.

Hymn: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otm_o8ZQpXA

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee, Op’ning to the sun above.Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; Drive the dark of doubt away;Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day!
All Thy works with joy surround Thee, Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,Stars and angels sing around Thee, Center of unbroken praise.Field and forest, vale and mountain, Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,Singing bird and flowing fountain Call us to rejoice in Thee.
Thou art giving and forgiving, Ever blessing, ever blest, Wellspring of the joy of living, Ocean depth of happy rest!Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, All who live in love are Thine;Teach us how to love each other, Lift us to the joy divine.

Call to Confession 1 John 3:9
9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

Prayer of Confession
O God, at times our actions contradict the fact that we are your people, revealing that we are more interested in ourselves than in others. Forgive us, Lord.
Our words themselves can increase the distance between “us” and “them,” forgetting we are all made in your image.
Forgive us, Lord.
In our church, we can care too much for getting our own way and not enough for hearing and supporting one another.
Forgive us, Lord.
At home, we can show our worst selves, especially in these times of stress and too much togetherness.
Forgive us, Lord.
In private, we can forget that you love us and that we can trust you with our darkest thoughts and deepest hurts.
Forgive us, Lord.

(Silent Confession)

Assurance of Forgiveness 1 John 2:1-24
If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world. Thanks be to God for the Good News: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven
(Silent Confession)
Gloria Patri: (Blue #579) Glory Be to the Father https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUBxpypSblw Sharing of the Peace: The peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.
Prayers of the People/Lord’s Prayer (traditional)
Celebration of Birthdays and Anniversaries 9/27 Jane

Hymn of Dedication Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVc5TrnEwhQ
1 Jesus, Thy boundless love to me, no thought can reach, no tongue declare;
O knit my thankful heart to Thee, and reign without a rival there.
Thine wholly, Thine alone, I’d live Myself to thee entirely give
2 O grant that nothing in my soul
may dwell, but Thy pure love alone!
O may Thy love possess me whole, my Joy, my Treasure, and my Crown.
All coldness from my heart remove; may ev’ry act, word, thought, be love.
3 O love, how gracious is thy way!
All fear before thy presence flies;
care, anguish, sorrow, melt away, where’er thy healing beams arise.
O Jesus, nothing may I see, nothing desire or seek, but Thee.

In a world of give and take, in a culture of mend and break,
give us minds, hearts, hands, and wallets for sacrificial care,
to satisfy hunger and thirst everywhere. These gifts, our prayers
and our very selves we offer in the name of Love himself, Jesus the Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Prayer for Illumination Be Thou My Vision
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLr1XrX3a1E
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Nought be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

First Reading: Genesis 37 selected verses4
Second Reading Genesis 50:15-214

Message About That Forgiveness Thing

Confession of Faith Adapted from the Second Helvetic Confession
True repentance is conversion to God. True repentance is a sincere turning to God and to all good. True repentance is an earnest turning away from the devil and all evil. True repentance is a sheer gift of God. True repentance is not a work of our strength. Now that sinful woman who washed the feet of the Lord with her tears showed true repentance. And Peter who wept bitterly and bewailed his denial of the Lord showed true repentance. The mind of the penitent who seriously who laments the sins committed shows true repentance. Moreover, the prodigal son showed true repentance when he said “ ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants” The tax collector in the Gospel, and not the Pharisee, showed true repentance when compared with the Pharisee, showed true repentance when he said, “God be merciful to me a sinner” And the truly repentant are accepted by God into grace. For the apostle John says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” Thanks be to God.
*Closing Hymn Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts
https://youtu.be/jsqHOt29_48?t=36
Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts, Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of all,From the best bliss that earth imparts, We turn unfilled to heed thy call.
Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;Thou savest those that on Thee call;To them that seek Thee Thou art good,To them that find Thee all in all.
Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,Wherever our changeful lot is cast;Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.
O Jesus, ever with us stay,Make all our moments calm and bright;Chase the dark night of sin away,Shed over the world Thy holy light.
*Charge and Benediction

Postlude Be Thou My Vision Glad
https://youtu.be/nPLcOlg0PWo

Old Testament Reading Genesis 37iii selected verses Dan Smaczny
3 Now Jacob loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a coat of many colors. 4 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.
5 Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. 7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.
17 Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. 18 They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. 20 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.” 21 But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” 22 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.
26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 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. 28 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.
29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. 30 He returned to his brothers, and said, “The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?” 31 Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They had the coat of many colors taken to their father, and they said, “This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not.” 33 He recognized it, and said, “It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned.
Second Reading Genesis 50:15-21 Rev. Dr. Len Hedges-Goettl

(3) And the brothers seeing that Joseph’s father was dead, are saying “Suppose Joseph is holding a grudge against all of us and will reverse all the evil we visited upon him against all of us.” So they demanded a messenger to go to Joseph to say “Your father commanded before he died saying ‘Please forgive your brothers and their sins for they did evil to you and now I pray, please forgive the transgressions of the servants of the God of your father’”

And Joseph was weeping when they spoke to him.
And his brothers falling on their faces before him said, “Behold, we are servants to you.”

And Joseph replied, “Don’t fear me, am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant it for evil but God devised it for good. God brings to pass this day the good to keep many people alive. Now, therefore, fear you not;
I will nourish you and your little ones.” And Joseph comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Sermon: Dr. Len Hedges-Goettl

As we have noted in the past, we are following the series of scriptures suggested by the narrative lectionary instead of what is called the Common Lectionary. In my years of preaching, I often wondered why the Joseph story, that we typically get taught in Sunday school, is not included for preaching in the Common Lectionary… especially since I use the Joseph story often when I doing therapy, especially when am treating abuse survivors.
Joseph is kind of the ultimate abuse story. Joseph is not only abused physically and emotionally, but that abuse is all the more horrible because it is at the hands of the family that is supposed to love and protect him. It is the breaking of trust by those who are supposed to be the most trustworthy, the folks who are supposed to “have is back.” Joseph goes on to be sexually abused by Potiphar’s wife and then gets blamed even though he was the victim and he gets imprisoned by the Pharaoh, but none of these terrible experiences destroy is trust as much as the betrayal by the ones who were suppose to love him. Did you notice the parallel when the brothers got 20 pieces of silver for betraying Joseph and when Judas got 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus? So one expects Joseph to never trust anyone again, especially his brothers.
So chapter 50 comes as something of a surprise, at least to me, when Joseph’s father has died and is buried and the brothers must face Joseph after all the dust has settled. You probably remember that Joseph more than put his life back together and was in charge of all the food that Egypt needed and that his brothers and their families needed in a time of famine. Joseph was being asked to be compassionate to the ones who abuse and betrayed him.
If we carefully read the Hebrew when the brothers return following the funeral of their father, we notice some very telling details. The inevitable confrontation between Joseph and his brothers is the climax to the story and the brothers just know they are really in for it now. Joseph has the power. Joseph has the food they desperately need. And Joseph knows full well how terribly they treated him. Their only concern is the revenge Joseph could now take on them without their father around to protect them.
Many commentators for this scripture jump to the conclusion that this is an excellent example of forgiveness and reconciliation. Thankfully, at least one commentator agreed with my reading of the text. The brothers were cowards afraid because the one they harmed so grievously now had power to harm them. The did NOT say they were sorry for their behavior. They did not even take responsibility for their behavior. They did not identify themselves as sons of Joseph’s father but kept leaning on the wishes of “Joseph’s father,” as if they weren’t even part of the family. Joseph was supposed to forgive them, not because they confessed their sin and repented of their behavior but because of some command that they say “Joseph’s father” made when “Joseph’s father died.”
Barb said I should tell the story about her mother whose words seldom took responsibility for her actions when things went wrong. She might say “someone” forgot to do a thing, vaguely noting the offense but not the offender. She also typically refused to acknowledge what is called agency, that is when a person causes something to happen and takes responsibility. She would say “the glass broke” or “the milk spilled” as if it happened without any person involved. I really don’t remember her saying “I broke this” or “I did that.” Since things apparently “just happened” without anyone being responsible, she never had to apologize!
Joseph’s brothers act as if things “just happened” to Joseph, they don’t accept responsibility even though they fear Joseph’s revenge.
So the brothers press Joseph to forgive them not because they are sorry, not because they apologized, not because they repented of their actions, but because “Joseph’s father” not their father but “Joseph’s father” said Joseph should forgive them. Repenting from our behavior means we
acknowledge that we are responsible for what we have done
apologize and ask for forgiveness (not just say you ought to forgive without me being sorry)
repent from our bad behavior. Repent is a Hebrew word meaning to turn away from one thing and turn toward another… to turn away from bad behavior and turn toward good behavior from then on.
And Joseph’s response is startling! Well, it is not so startling that he begins by weeping. The hurt caused by his brothers was so deep and they stirred up the memory of all that hurt without taking responsibility and without repenting and without even asking for forgiveness themselves. Who wouldn’t weep if we demanded an abused person to just go ahead and forgive someone who doesn’t even try to apologize?
But then Joseph responds: Don’t be afraid. You meant it for evil but God used it for good. He then asks: Do you think I am taking God’s place? Joseph likely could not forgive his brothers. Why not? Let’s think about the call to confession today used from 1 John.
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness
God is perfectly willing, in fact God is aching to forgive our sins…IF… we confess our sins. Full confession of sin means acknowledging and taking responsibility for what we have done, being sorry for what we have done, and turning from bad behavior toward good behavior. I wonder sometimes if God gets impatient with us or if God is just sad and yearning as God waits for us to fully confess so that at last God’s forgiveness can occur.
The brothers did NOT confess their sins against Joseph. If God does not forgive without full confession, why would we expect Joseph to forgive? He probably ached for his brothers to accept responsibility, ask forgiveness and repent of their behavior. Perhaps even like God, Joseph longed to forgive and be reconciled with his brothers.
But before we get too shocked by this lack of forgiveness, lets also look at Joseph’s behavior toward his brothers in the absence of forgiveness. Despite the deep hurt, Joseph nourished his brothers and their little ones. Joseph comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
When someone hurts us, even if the hurt is not at the level of abuse, we want them to change, to apologize, to make things right with us. And it can be so unnerving if they won’t even take responsibility for their actions. But like Joseph, our response should not be a response of revenge. And our response should not be some fake effort to forgive when they have not done their part to make forgiveness possible. But like Joseph, perhaps our response could be to show the love and compassion… the grace… the thing they don’t deserve even if they don’t do a full confession. Like Joseph we could feed their needs and the needs of their family anyway. Like Joseph we could comfort them and speak kindly to them. Because the grace Joseph shared, the grace we might share, is tiny compared to the grace God shares with us in our own sinfulness…every single day.
God is faithful and just and so full of grace… may we be likewise. Amen.

And the brothers seeing that Joseph’s father was dead, are saying “Suppose Joseph is holding a grudge against all of us and will reverse all the evil we visited upon him against all of us.” So they demanded a messenger to go to Joseph to say “Your father commanded before he died saying ‘Please forgive your brothers and their sins for they did evil to you and now I pray, please forgive the transgressions of the servants of the God of your father’”

And Joseph was weeping when they spoke to him.
And his brothers falling on their faces before him said, “Behold, we are servants to you.”

And Joseph replied, “Don’t fear me, am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant it for evil but God devised it for good. God brings to pass this day the good to keep many people alive. Now, therefore, fear you not;
I will nourish you and your little ones.” And Joseph comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

As we have noted in the past, we are following the series of scriptures suggested by the narrative lectionary instead of what is called the Common Lectionary. In my years of preaching, I often wondered why the Joseph story, that we typically get taught in Sunday school, is not included for preaching in the Common Lectionary… especially since I use the Joseph story often when I doing therapy, especially when am treating abuse survivors.
Joseph is kind of the ultimate abuse story. Joseph is not only abused physically and emotionally, but that abuse is all the more horrible because it is at the hands of the family that is supposed to love and protect him. It is the breaking of trust by those who are supposed to be the most trustworthy, the folks who are supposed to “have is back.” Joseph goes on to be sexually abused by Potiphar’s wife and then gets blamed even though he was the victim and he gets imprisoned by the Pharaoh, but none of these terrible experiences destroy is trust as much as the betrayal by the ones who were suppose to love him. Did you notice the parallel when the brothers got 20 pieces of silver for betraying Joseph and when Judas got 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus? So one expects Joseph to never trust anyone again, especially his brothers.
So chapter 50 comes as something of a surprise, at least to me, when Joseph’s father has died and is buried and the brothers must face Joseph after all the dust has settled. You probably remember that Joseph more than put his life back together and was in charge of all the food that Egypt needed and that his brothers and their families needed in a time of famine. Joseph was being asked to be compassionate to the ones who abuse and betrayed him.
If we carefully read the Hebrew when the brothers return following the funeral of their father, we notice some very telling details. The inevitable confrontation between Joseph and his brothers is the climax to the story and the brothers just know they are really in for it now. Joseph has the power. Joseph has the food they desperately need. And Joseph knows full well how terribly they treated him. Their only concern is the revenge Joseph could now take on them without their father around to protect them.
Many commentators for this scripture jump to the conclusion that this is an excellent example of forgiveness and reconciliation. Thankfully, at least one commentator agreed with my reading of the text. The brothers were cowards afraid because the one they harmed so grievously now had power to harm them. The did NOT say they were sorry for their behavior. They did not even take responsibility for their behavior. They did not identify themselves as sons of Joseph’s father but kept leaning on the wishes of “Joseph’s father,” as if they weren’t even part of the family. Joseph was supposed to forgive them, not because they confessed their sin and repented of their behavior but because of some command that they say “Joseph’s father” made when “Joseph’s father died.”
Barb said I should tell the story about her mother whose words seldom took responsibility for her actions when things went wrong. She might say “someone” forgot to do a thing, vaguely noting the offense but not the offender. She also typically refused to acknowledge what is called agency, that is when a person causes something to happen and takes responsibility. She would say “the glass broke” or “the milk spilled” as if it happened without any person involved. I really don’t remember her saying “I broke this” or “I did that.” Since things apparently “just happened” without anyone being responsible, she never had to apologize!
Joseph’s brothers act as if things “just happened” to Joseph, they don’t accept responsibility even though they fear Joseph’s revenge.
So the brothers press Joseph to forgive them not because they are sorry, not because they apologized, not because they repented of their actions, but because “Joseph’s father” not their father but “Joseph’s father” said Joseph should forgive them. Repenting from our behavior means we
acknowledge that we are responsible for what we have done
apologize and ask for forgiveness (not just say you ought to forgive without me being sorry)
repent from our bad behavior. Repent is a Hebrew word meaning to turn away from one thing and turn toward another… to turn away from bad behavior and turn toward good behavior from then on.
And Joseph’s response is startling! Well, it is not so startling that he begins by weeping. The hurt caused by his brothers was so deep and they stirred up the memory of all that hurt without taking responsibility and without repenting and without even asking for forgiveness themselves. Who wouldn’t weep if we demanded an abused person to just go ahead and forgive someone who doesn’t even try to apologize?
But then Joseph responds: Don’t be afraid. You meant it for evil but God used it for good. He then asks: Do you think I am taking God’s place? Joseph likely could not forgive his brothers. Why not? Let’s think about the call to confession today used from 1 John.
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness
God is perfectly willing, in fact God is aching to forgive our sins…IF… we confess our sins. Full confession of sin means acknowledging and taking responsibility for what we have done, being sorry for what we have done, and turning from bad behavior toward good behavior. I wonder sometimes if God gets impatient with us or if God is just sad and yearning as God waits for us to fully confess so that at last God’s forgiveness can occur.
The brothers did NOT confess their sins against Joseph. If God does not forgive without full confession, why would we expect Joseph to forgive? He probably ached for his brothers to accept responsibility, ask forgiveness and repent of their behavior. Perhaps even like God, Joseph longed to forgive and be reconciled with his brothers.
But before we get too shocked by this lack of forgiveness, lets also look at Joseph’s behavior toward his brothers in the absence of forgiveness. Despite the deep hurt, Joseph nourished his brothers and their little ones. Joseph comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
When someone hurts us, even if the hurt is not at the level of abuse, we want them to change, to apologize, to make things right with us. And it can be so unnerving if they won’t even take responsibility for their actions. But like Joseph, our response should not be a response of revenge. And our response should not be some fake effort to forgive when they have not done their part to make forgiveness possible. But like Joseph, perhaps our response could be to show the love and compassion… the grace… the thing they don’t deserve even if they don’t do a full confession. Like Joseph we could feed their needs and the needs of their family anyway. Like Joseph we could comfort them and speak kindly to them. Because the grace Joseph shared, the grace we might share, is tiny compared to the grace God shares with us in our own sinfulness…every single day.
God is faithful and just and so full of grace… may we be likewise. Amen.

(1) Excerpted from a prayer by Dr. Susan M. (Elli) Elliott. Source: http://ellielliott.webs.com/sermonsprayers.htm

(2) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved

(3) Translation by Dr. Len Hedges-Goettl using the Hebrew Interlinear Bible

Bulletin 2 by Pastor Katy Stenta, God of the Rainbow Coat Prayer, More Narrative Lectionary Resources

God of the Rainbow Coat

God,

when you looked into Joseph’s face, laced with drama;

when you saw his heart–full of queer notions…

And his coat that was gay to its core.

When you truly got to know who Joseph was.

Then, and only then did you call him by name.

I know this, because you are God, and you are with us.

You don’t call us as strangers who might be able to help.

You call us as beloved children who you know can be more fulfilled serving others.

You didn’t ask Joseph to take of his rainbow coat, or to change, or to be better–you just asked him to come.

And it is beautiful that you can take a dreaming boy, who was too flamboyant, and dramatic, and talked to much, and turned his dreams into hope.

First for all of Egypt, and then for the very siblings that betrayed him.

May we all have the grace to remember that God calls us exactly as we are. Remind us, that just as God knows each and every star, God knows and calls us all by name.

We pray in Christ’s most Holy Name.

Amen.

More Narrative Lectionary Resources

#Forgiveness and #Debt

Matthew 18:21-35

Genesis 50: 15-21

It would happen that the week I’m preaching on forgiveness (thank you God & lectionary), a bully from Jr. High would ask to friend me. (He used to tell me to shut up whenever I spoke…for like a whole entire year)

Any other week I’d say yes or no and move on

But am I a holy person or not (the answer is no, no holier than anyone else…in fact when someone comes to tell me I’m a holy person, usually its to complain about me, so I def. do not lay claim to that title)

When I posted about it on FB, the discussion turned into a “Should I friend them” discussion..harkening on the very Jr. High School Experiences I didn’t like to begin with…and were actually off point.

Here’s the deal, I’m generally not bitter about Jr. High (anymore) I went to my pastoral psych eval and realized that even though I was “over it” I was still bitter so I worked hard to reframe my bitterness (Didn’t I marry someone I met in Jr. High, so it wasn’t all bad, besides my experiences laid the groundwork for my empathy and ministry that I do today). Is that my moment to say: “Do not fear. Am I not in the place of God”

But…I wanted–something more…

Debts…I feel like this person…owed me something. The listening that is last week’s lectionary…or acknowledgement of who I am, or best yet a real and sincere apology.

What happened to the whole “all we owe each other is love” thing that I so felt and preached on last week..

Debts…

Forgiveness is about feeling a debt, which really I DON’T want to be a debtholder….I owe so many debts to so many people which I have no clue whether  I will ever pay them off…and ….I hate them…(the debts that is, not the people)

I love that my children will never starve, but I never want people to feel the horrible crushing thing that is debt in my life…I don’t want people to feel like they are less of a person because they have to think about what they owe on a regular basis…

the forgiveness of debts…the debts part of forgiveness is clearer now than ever

so…forgiveness it is….