We have reached the end of the musical “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. Everything that follows is unknown territory for me. So off we go!
But first, Genesis 46 tells of Jacob’s arrival in Egypt. He has brought his entire family and all their descendants. Also their livestock and possessions. Joseph welcomes them with open arms and they move into the land of Goshen as shepherds.
Genesis 47. The famine grown worse, as Pharaoh’s dreams had predicted it would. Joseph sells the grain he has stored, until the money runs out. Now Pharaoh has all the money in Egypt. So Joseph trades the grain for livestock, which he gives to Pharaoh. The next year, with no money and no livestock the people are still starving so Joseph lets them have grain in exchange for their loyalty and their land. The entire nation becomes slaves to the Pharaoh and he owns the land. Now Joseph tells the people to start planting crops and return one fifth to the Pharaoh.
The years pass and Jacob grown very old. He knows that he will die soon and makes Joseph promise to take his body back to Canaan to be buried.
Matthew 15 and the calm reassurance of yesterday’s reading is all gone. Jesus puts the Pharisees in their place when they ask him about traditions. Why doesn’t he ceremonially wash his hands before eating? He tells them it’s because that’s not important. Food goes in and eventually it comes out. The food will not defile you. But what comes out of your mouth (your words) can defile you.
His disciples are shocked by his tone. He’s just insulted the Pharisees. (15:13) “Every plant not planted by my heavenly father will be uprooted.” He’s not talking just about the Pharisees here, he’s talking about the traditions and window dressings that accompany so many religious occasions. How much of it is God’s will and how much if it has been put there by men?
And then we come to a really difficult passage because it seems that Jesus doesn’t care. A woman comes to visit him because her daughter is ill. But he ignores her at first, then says (15:26) “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” But she argues with him, “Even dogs are allowed to eat scraps.” And Jesus replies, “Your faith is great, your request is granted.”
I don’t know what this bit means. I think perhaps he was testing the woman. How much did she care for her daughter? Enough for her to argue with him? And that proved that she had faith. Despite his harsh tone. So her daughter was healed.
Psalm 19 is a cracker, isn’t it? I love looking up at the night sky and marvelling at God’s incredible creation. Last year we were on holiday in a small cottage miles from anywhere and no streetlights. Late one evening I went out and just looked upwards. I thought to myself, it’s a shame there are just a few clouds about. Then I realised what I was looking at: the Milky Way! Living as I do in a city, we never see it. It took my breath away!
“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.”
You’re not kidding! And Psalm 19 continues with a verse which links to the Matthew reading, (19:14) “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
Proverbs 4 continues to offer advice for the writer (and us) on how to avoid wickedness. (4:14) “Don’t do as the wicked do… (19) the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over.”
Keep on shining!