You’re God’s Favorite *and* God Can Work With Messed up Lives

Here’s the sermon audio covering the story of Joseph, found in sprawling form throughout lots of the book of Genesis. You can see the story we read (lots of paraphrasing) and then I try and hit the high points and the low points of Joseph’s story that it is not covered in the scripture reading.

Here’s the scripture reading:

God’s story and our story continue today in the epic story of Joseph told from Genesis, chapter 37:3-8, 17-22, 26-34 and 50:15-21

ALL: Glory to you, O Lord.


[Get Joseph and brothers all set up in 2 groups]


Abraham and Sarah finally had a baby and his name was Isaac. Then, Isaac married Rebekah and one of their sons was Jacob. Jacob is the father of Joseph and all his brothers, which is what our story is about today.


Joseph’s dad comes from a family where playing favorites with kids was the norm. So now he’s repeating this same terrible pattern with his kids, with Joseph. You see Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the child of his old age. So to show him how much he loved him, he made him a fancy coat. When his brothers realized that their father loved him more than them, they grew to hate him—they wouldn’t even speak to him.


Now, Joseph was about 17 years old and he had a dream. And instead of writing about it in his journal or just keeping it to himself, he thought he’d better tell his brothers about it.


So he says, strutting around in his fancy coat, “Listen to this dream I had. We were all out in the field gathering bundles of wheat. All of a sudden my bundle stood straight up and your bundles circled around it and bowed down to mine.” I’m a big deal and you’re not.


His brothers said, You’re not the boss of us! You think you’re going to be the boss of us?! You think you’re so fancy? And they hated him more than ever because Joseph didn’t know when to keep quiet.


Now, it was a while later after Joseph had run his mouth about his great dream of ruling his brothers and his brothers had gone off to a neighboring place to pasture their flock.  So Joseph took off, tracked his brothers down, and found them in this place called Dothan.


Well, they spotted him off in the distance. By the time he got to them they had cooked up a plot to kill him. The brothers were saying, Let’s kill the hotshot, fancy coat dreamer!


But one of the brothers, Reuben, heard the brothers talking and intervened to save him, saying

(Congregation) “We can’t kill him!” “We’re not going to kill him. No murder. Go ahead and throw him in this well out here in the wild, but don’t hurt him.” Reuben planned to go back later and get him out and take him back to his father.


They sat down to eat their supper. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites on their way from Gilead, their camels loaded with spices, ointments, and perfumes to sell in Egypt.


Another one of Joseph’s brothers, Judah said, “Brothers, what are we going to get out of killing our brother and concealing the evidence? Congregation – Let’s sell him! Let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not kill him—he is, after all, our brother, our own flesh and blood.”


His brothers agreed. By that time the Midianite traders were passing by. His brothers pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites who took Joseph with them down to Egypt. Later Reuben came back and went to the well—no Joseph! He ripped his clothes in despair. Beside himself, he went to his brothers.  Congregatiom: The boy’s gone! What am I going to do!”


So, they took Joseph’s fancy coat, butchered a goat, and dipped the coat in the blood. They took the fancy coat back to their father and said, “We found this. Look it over—do you think this is your son’s coat?”  He recognized it at once. “My son’s coat—a wild animal has eaten him. Joseph torn limb from limb!”


Jacob tore his clothes in grief, dressed in rough burlap, and mourned his son a long, long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him but he refused their comfort. “I’ll go to the grave mourning my son.” Oh, how his father wept for him.


Fast forward a bunch of time to when Joseph was a trusted leader in the land of Egypt. There had been a famine, people were starving, and because of Joseph’s dreams, Egypt had plenty of food to spare. In time, the brothers came to recognize that the person they were bowing down to and asking for help was their brother they had thrown into a well and sold into slavery.


By this time, Jacob, their father, had died, and Joseph had forgiven his brothers, but the brothers weren’t sure, now that their father had died, if the forgiveness would stick. They thought maybe now Joseph would seek revenge.


After the funeral, Joseph’s brothers talked among themselves:

“What if Joseph is carrying a grudge and decides to pay us back for all the wrong we did him?”

So they sent Joseph a message, putting words in their father’s mouth:


“Before his death, your father gave this command: Tell Joseph, ‘Forgive your brothers’ sin—all that wrongdoing. They did treat you very badly.’ Will you do it? Will you forgive us?


When Joseph received their message, he wept. Then the brothers went in person to him, threw themselves on the ground before him and said, “We’ll be your slaves.”


Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.”

He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart.


Narrator: Stay tuned for the continuing drama that is our story and God’s story.

ALL: Praise to you O Christ.