“Privilege, Power, Prison” Genesis 39:1-23
Rev. Sean Weston
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
September 23, 2018
We are three weeks into what is called the Narrative Lectionary. This lectionary is a four year schedule of Bible texts for worship, focused on telling the story of God’s work in the world throughout the whole Bible. For some time, this church had been on a different lectionary called the Revised Common Lectionary, which worked a little differently. One thing this means is that we’ll be hearing some texts in worship that we may not have heard in a long time, or even ever. Today is one of those days.
It’s a good thing. This lectionary makes preachers like me deal with difficult stories that we are used to ignoring. I wouldn’t have chosen to preach on this text, probably ever. You probably wouldn’t have chosen to hear it. But it is a story that is part of our heritage. It is there in the first place because our ancestors believed it said something worth saying. So, here we are. Think of this as walking an unfamiliar trail with me as your trail guide. I’ll point out the things I think are important. I hope it is helpful for you, and that you keep an open mind, if for no other reason that I’ve spent a lot of time on this particular trail recently. But you might not see what I see. You might focus on different things, or even think I made a wrong turn. I don’t ask you to see everything I see. I do ask you to keep an open mind before drawing your own conclusions.
There are three main parts of this story. The first part explains that Joseph was rising through the ranks as a slave. Nearly every system of slavery has different ranks. In the United States the classic division was between those in the fields and those in the house, though there were other divisions too. While there are benefits to being higher on the ladder, you’re always a slave.
The second part of the story is when the wife of Joseph’s master wants to sleep with him. He refuses, and in her rage she accuses him anyways, to her husband Potiphar who is Joseph’s master. She takes great care to note that he is a Hebrew slave.
For this, Joseph gets sent to prison, which is the last part of the story. Here, even though he is in prison, God is present with him. There is hope for him, even in the most challenging and unfair of circumstances. Because God is with him. Continue reading