We’ve reached the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (16 August 2020) and this week’s Genesis story is again about “Dream Coat” Joseph – when he makes himself known to the brothers who had previously sold him into slavery.
Rev. Geoff McKee examines different notions of justice, referring to lessons we can learn from world experience of the last few months (from Black Lives Matter to Dominic Cummings), as well as from the Bible.
The pursuit of justice in any context is a costly and painful process. But what is true justice and what is it not?
Joseph’s behaviour towards his brothers – his reconciliation with them – is an example of true justice being achieved. Geoff explains this lesson for us.
As usual, below, you will find today’s lectionary scriptures, prayers, the audio sermon and a musical choice.
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Lectionary Scriptures for today
Genesis 45:1-15 (New International Version)
Joseph Makes Himself Known
45 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.
3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’
12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”
14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.
The Remnant of Israel
11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel:
29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
The Faith of a Canaanite Woman
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
It was not to judge the world that God sent his Son into the world, but that through him the world might be saved
Lord God who calls us to worship, let us be glad and sing for joy. Guide us in our worship this morning. Help us to be attentive to you as we gather in different places as a community of faith to grow and learn, to be challenged and to be comforted. Help us to listen for your voice today.
Forgiving God, there have been moments this week that have been difficult. There have been times where we have not lived up to everything you created us to be. We have done what we should not and not done what we should. We have said and thought things that were not kind, or honest. We haven’t loved other people or ourselves. We are sorry.
God of fresh starts, help us to wipe the slate clean. Walk beside us and teach us your ways, give us hope that the difficult things won’t always be this way. Help us to know your forgiveness for ourselves
and show your forgiveness to others.
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Prayers of Intercession
God of love, how wonderful it is for us all to know that you love us, no matter our background. Thank you that in your kingdom we find radical welcome and inclusion for all, even ourselves.
We delight in your love. In your kingdom there will be justice and peace, but we know that this is not the experience of everyone today. Bring your kingdom Lord.
God of justice, we pray for people who find themselves caught up in conflict. For those navigating difficult relationships and making hard decisions. For those who have experienced discrimination and unfairness. For those caught up in dangerous situations around the world. We pray for people who find themselves on the margins. For those who feel they don’t quite fit in or are being left out.
For those who don’t want others to know they are struggling. For those who can’t access the things we take for granted because of poverty or disability. Break down the barriers. Bring Your kingdom Lord.
God of peace, we pray for your church. For our parish and all who are faithful servants of Jesus here. For our brothers and sisters around the world. Strengthen and encourage us Lord. As we settle into new rhythms of life, we remember those who have suffered and are struggling with the effects of the last few months. We pray for those who are trying to trying to return to a new normality and for those who are caught between the two.
Bring your kingdom Lord Jesus, who taught us to pray…
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be 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,
the power and the glory,
Faithful One is a modern worship song by Brian Doerksen. The song focuses on the Lord as our “rock of peace” who lifts us in times of trouble and gives hope to those who follow him. When injustices and troubles surround us, we know we can always depend on our Lord and Saviour to guide us, protect us and show us the way forward in all we do and say.