This week I am in a space of intentional prayer for our church and its members. It is a holy time that I take to realign my heart and spirit with the call that God has placed on me in this season of life. It is challenging and reflective work, that I am humbled to do with and for you. But in that spirit, and with the new Inspire theme of courage, I invite you into a time of prayer as you read this week’s scripture lesson. Because make no mistake, prayer takes courage. It takes courage to talk to God and to open yourself to what might be shared in return. So, this week, let’s keep it simple. Let’s pray. And part of that prayer is praying though scripture.
Start by reading through our text once and pray that you are open to God’s message. Read it again and pray for others to hear our still speaking God. Read it a third time and pray for those that see themselves as the dreamer, the parent, or the fearful in this story. Pray that all hearers of this story, regardless of where they see themselves in it, know that they are God’s beloved. Friends, read and pray and then pray some more. Take a breath. Start again. Prayer is a muscle that needs to be exercised often. So, I hope to see you all this Sunday for our time of worship. In the meantime, I’ll be praying for you.
Then Jacob took up residence in the place where Isaac had settled, the land of Canaan.
These are the generations of Joseph.
When Joseph was seventeen years old, he used to accompany his siblings, the children of Bilhah and Zilpah, Jacob’s spouses, as they herded the flocks. Joseph would tattle on the others to Jacob while they tended the animals, always presenting them in a negative light.
Now, Israel doted on the youth, because he was a child of his old age; he loved Joseph more than the others. And Israel gave Joseph a richly ornamented robe.
When the brothers saw that Israel loved him best, they were jealous and had nothing but words of contempt for the boy.
The brothers had gone to tend the herds at Shechem. Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers are tending to the herds at Shechem. I will send you to them.” Joseph replied, “I am ready.”
Israel told Joseph to see if things were going well and to report back to him. So, Joseph set off from the valley of Hebron. When he arrived at Shechem and was wandering in the fields in search for the herds, someone asked, “What are you looking for?”
Joseph answered, “I am looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are tending sheep?”
The person said, “They have moved on. I heard them say they were going to Dothan.”
So, Joseph left that place and caught up with the herd at Dothan.
They saw Joseph approaching in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to murder the lad. They said to one other, “Here comes that dreamer. Now’s our chance! Let’s kill Joseph and throw his body in one of these pits. We’ll say a wild animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what becomes of Joseph’s dreams!”
Reuben intervened and saved the boy from their hands, saying, “No bloodshed! Throwing him into a pit in the wilderness is one thing, but let’s not lay a hand on him.” Reuben’s intention was to rescue Joseph and return him to Israel.
So, when Joseph came upon his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the ornamented robe he wore, and picked him up and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty, and there was no water in it.
Then they sat down to eat. As they were eating, they noticed an Ishmaelite caravan coming from Gilead, with loads of gum, balm, and resin, on its way down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to the others, “What is to be gained by murdering Joseph and concealing his death? Why not sell Joseph to these Ishmaelites? He is, after all, our flesh and blood, and in that way his blood will not be on our hands.” The others agreed.
Meanwhile, some Midianite traders passed by, and pulled Joseph out of the pit. They sold him for eight ounces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took Joseph with them into Egypt. (Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 )
A quick prayer for your week: O Lord, I pray for your people. Amen
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from The Rev. Francesca Fortunato
Dear Park People,
On Sunday, September 27th, the Park Sunday school children heard the story of Jacob’s struggle with God, and ultimate reconciliation with his brother, Esau (Genesis 32 - Doring Kindersley Illustrated Children’s Bible.) While listening, they used drawing materials from their worship boxes, to make pictures of their families (including themselves.) During discussion time, we pondered the ways that the story reflected challenges in our own lives, around making peace with family members, with whom we had argued. The children gave examples of times when they had felt angry with siblings, parents, cousins; even the family dog! We thought of ways to find God’s peace in our hearts (praying; thinking about love) to help us find the strength and courage to give and receive forgiveness, as Jacob and Esau did.
On Sunday October 4th, we will return to The Beginner’s Bible, to read the story from Genesis 37, in which Joseph receives the “coat of many colors,” and gets sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. The children will design their own, beautiful; multi-colored coats, not only for themselves, but (thinking about people they love) for others. We will talk about how feelings of jealousy can get in the way of our love for friends and family, and brainstorm “win-win” solutions to situations in our lives, where those difficult feelings can arise.
May we all find God’s solace, and our own ways to seek peaceful victory!
Blessings and well wishes as always,
Rev. Francesca Fortunato: Children’s Minister
Pandemic of Love is a mutual aid community of care that was started in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. It humbly began on March 14th, 2020 by one person and was intended to help her own local community. But, like an epidemic, the act of love and kindness spread quickly and is now a beautiful movement helping those in need throughout the world.
What is a mutual aid community? It connects people in need with patrons who can help with that need. This is a tangible way for people to give to each other, quickly, discretely and directly.
What’s the catch? There is none. Kind people are introduced to kind people which results in an act of kindness and human connection.