Genesis: Roots, Relationship, Redemption – Daring to Dream

CC image from きうこon Flikr

CC image from きうこon Flikr

 

Genesis: Roots, Relationship, Redemption

Daring To Dream

Genesis 37: 1-28

“One sister for sale,

One sister for sale.

One crying and spying young sister for sale

I’m really not kidding so who’ll start the bidding

Do I hear a dollar?

A nickel?

A penny?

Oh isn’t there isn’t there any

One person who will buy this sister for sale

This crying spying old young sister for sale.”

 

What sibling, while growing up, didn’t have a Shel Silverstein moment in their life?   A day in which they wanted to sell their pesky brother or sister?

I think more often than not my own older sister would have sold me in a heartbeat while growing up! After all isn’t is the job of a younger sibling to spy, and tattle, to make mischief… To, all in all, just make the life of their older sibling delightfully miserable. Isn’t that their job?

Yes? No? Maybe, depends on if they deserved it?

Well, Jacob (this guy that we have been talking about for a few weeks now) it turns out that he passed on his taste for sibling rivalry to the next generation. He passed it on to his twelve sons. If you can remember back a ways in Genesis, Jacob was the man that married the sisters, Leah and Rachel. He sort of accidentally got two for the price of one. And then the sisters each had maidservants (or slaves… depending on how you read it). So, Jacob really had four wives. Two that he married, and two that were tagged onto the deal. All together these four women brought twelve sons into the world, and who knows how many daughters! This is a huge family. But the youngest in the family, was Jacob’s pride and joy.

He was very much like the sister that Shel Silverstein was attempting to sell. The spying and crying old young sister for sale.

Our passage in Genesis tells us that Jacob’s youngest son, Joseph (At seventeen) was the obvious favorite child. The Bible tells us that Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children. And to prove it, Jacob gave Joseph a really ornate robe to wear. And on top of looking the part of the favorite child. Joseph was a tattletale/ the family spy.

He was the son selected to keep an eye on his brother’s while they were working in the fields. And, Joseph brought back negative reports to his father! Perhaps saying that they were lazy or late to work. Whatever the report said it landed all the brothers in trouble! And while the brother’s couldn’t do anything overt to squash their baby brother for his treachery, they still kept their eye out for an opportunity to take their revenge.

But to make things worse, much worse, Joseph was apparently oblivious to his brother’s animosity and jealousy towards him!

The straw that finally broke the camels back wasn’t his tattletale-ing or his cool robe… it was the dreaming.

Picture this, pesky/ young/ naïve Joseph wakes up one morning and goes running to his brothers saying, “Listen to this awesome dream I just had!”

Then Joseph tells them about a dream in which they were all out in the field binding sheaves of grain together… then all of a sudden his sheave (this bundle in his hands) grew and grew up towards the sun! Until it became this giant tree like bundle of grain. And all of the other grain bundles standing in its shadow began to bow down to it.

His brother’s new what this dream meant. They said, “Do you honestly think you are going to rule of us?   Over us?”

Then Joseph, not realizing that this was a great time to keep his mouth shut, said “Yeah! And listen to this other dream I had! I dreamed that we were all in the sky! And the sun (who is our father Jacob), and the moon (my mother Rachel), and eleven stars (that’s you guys- my brothers) all bowed down to me! Isn’t that great?”

         Consider the camel’s back broke.

         Joseph’s brothers could no longer contain their jealousy.

Soon after, Jacob sent his boys out to the fields again. And while they were out there, the brothers all sitting together see Joseph approaching and they say to each other, “Here comes the dreamer! Let’s kill him!”

They just couldn’t take it anymore. The honor, the authority that was being afforded to their pip-squeak baby brother… No they couldn’t take it any more.

And so they trapped him down a well. And while Joseph was in there, the dark cistern, likely obliviously wondering what he did wrong… The brother’s all celebrate over lunch and plan what to do with him next!

What was a great practical joke… took a dark/dangerous turn. A couple of the more blood thirsty brothers suggest murdering him and making it look like a wild animal had attacked him… But other brother’s suggest not killing him… but rather selling him.

Thankfully there was still a little family loyalty in them… so the consensus was that they would sell him! And so they did! For twenty shekels of silver! Joseph was sold to be a slave of the Ishmaelite people who are heading to Egypt.

So there you have it, the dreamer (the one bearing the visions of God) has been bound and sold into captivity because of jealousy.

All this week, I’ve been pondering the nature of jealousy. About what we humans can do when we feel threatened, or suppressed… when we feel belittled… when we feel jealous.

Joseph’s brothers had to deal with the perfect Joseph for seventeen years. They dealt with his elevated status, his position of unearned power and authority for years… And they were all, eventually, pushed too far.

“Here comes the dreamer! Let’s kill him!” they said.

These dreams of Joseph were a vision of the coming kingdom of God. A kingdom that was coming whether they liked it or not. A kingdom that required the work and the imagination of Joseph.

The youngest brother. The dreamer. The visionary. And yes… the spy. God wanted Joseph to be a part of God’s work.

And Joseph merely told the world what was coming. That God’s work is about to get rolling.

But the brother’s were so blinded by their own jealousy that they couldn’t see God’s will though it all. They just saw the injustice of the baby brother in a position of authority. They weren’t able to rejoice in the fact that God was about to do great things!!

About to do great things with one of their own! How cool is that!?

Jealousy has such an overwhelming power to it.

Joseph is certainly not the only dreamer that has been silenced over jealousy/ over fear.

I read a sermon this week by Wendy Joyner and she pointed out a few example of other Joseph like figures that I’d like us to consider…

What about, Martin Luther King, Jr.? Showing the way toward a dream of unity. On the Washington Mall, he spoke about a day in which all were judges by their character and not the color of their skin. This was a kingdom dream! A dream from God about a future of hope and inclusiveness. But this dreamer, threatened our status quo, and he was silenced.

As the brothers said: “Here comes the dreamer! Let’s kill him!”

What about Archbishop Oscar Romero? Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in San Salvador! He spoke for the poor and the oppressed. He said daring words like, “We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs. We must seek him among the undernourished children who have gone to bed at night with nothing to eat, among the poor newsboys who will sleep covered with newspapers in doorways.” These are Kingdom words! He lived his life alongside those who had nothing! Romero was a dreamer, and he was assassinated as he presided over a worship service.

As the brothers said: “Here comes the dreamer! Let’s kill him!”

What about Dietrich Bonhoeffer? A German Lutheran pastor and teacher who fought hard against Nazism on his own home turf during World War II. He was the voice and the leader of the Confessing Church and became involved with the anti-Hitler resistance movement. He was eventually arrested, charged, and found guilt of sedition. He was hanged for his resistance to Nazism. But even today, he continues to speak to us through his writings, as he encourages the church to live out its prophetic calling to be, above all, the community of God. This brave dreamer lived out his faith and his conscience among one of the most violent and oppressive movements that this world has ever seen.

As the brothers said: “Here comes the dreamer! Lets kill him!”

MLK, Archbishop Romero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer… these are compelling and bold examples of what it is to be dreamers in a world that is not ready or willing to hear what God has to tell us. To be that pioneering spirit of God’s kingdom work. “Dreamers, like Joseph, sometimes end up in the bottom of a dark, deep pit.”[1]

But when we look around at each other. Right here in this sanctuary… even here… there are dreamers. Those who listen for God’s movements in this world. Those that dream divine dreams, think divine thoughts, do divine work with their hands. Those that see and do and live the grace of God into this world.

It is my prayer that we all grow to become dreamers.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Why would you want me to become a dreamer if they are all getting killed off?! Why would you want me to be a dreamer, if all that follows is conflict and challenge?!”

For two reasons:

First, because it is better to be a dreamer… than to be one in the mob that seeks to sink a dreamer. Is it not?

And second, because who said it was easy being a Christian?   It is hard work/ holy work that God’s has called us to!

Don’t be afraid of hearing God’s voice, or dreaming God’s dreams, or boldly working to bring about the kingdom of God!

Only, BE afraid of standing in the way of God’s kingdom work!

God wanted Joseph to be a dream- God needs dreamers. Perhaps that could be us…

As you consider what that means for your life: Know that dreamers sound naïve at best and crazy at worst…

They talk about the mourning being comforted!

The weakest, inheriting the earth!

They speak of peacemakers being called children of God!

Of salves set free

Of the blind- given sight.

Of the outcast and the immigrant being welcome.

Of enemies being loved.

Dreamers speak grace-filled words/ Gospel words.

The boldest of dreamers, the ones that sound perfectly naïve… the most faithful of the dreamers… they get out of the boat to take Christ’s hand as they walk upon the water. As Peter showed us in Matthew’s Gospel today.

This world needs those who cast a vision of the kingdom of God.

And God willing, we might be brave enough to risk dreaming big dreams. Brave enough to show grace/ show love to a hurting world.

Let us pray,

To the God of all I pray.

Lord, for all the dreamers out there. Those that have opened their hearts to let in a vision of your kingdom come. Lord, grant them clarity and purpose. Grant them focus and energy to bring about Your good work.

And Lord, I pray for all the potential dreamers out there.   Open their hearts. Open the eye of the soul to see your good work in this world. Strengthen them to go there, to pitch in, and to assist and serve.

You are bigger than our biggest fears God, We can trust you with our lives… for they are already yours. Grant us steadfast and open hearts… each and everyone of us. In Christ’s name. Amen.

[1] Wendy Joyner. Sermon: Dangerous Dreamers. Accessed through Ministry Matters on August 6, 2014.

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