Joseph had the gift of dreaming. He could see the possibilities of the future in the reality of the present.
Joseph also had a talent for getting under the skin of his eleven brothers. As you read the story of Joseph from the 37th – 50th chapters of Genesis, you will see that Joseph was his father’s favorite child as represented by a long coat with sleeves that his father gave to him. You also will read early on about two dreams that Joseph shared with his brothers. In one dream, Joseph and his brothers were bound as sheaves in a field when the sheaves representing his brothers bowed down to him. Another dream was about the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowing down to him. The message of these dreams was as clear as was his brothers’ reaction to Joseph that is recorded in Genesis 37:8:
“So, they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.”
The hatred of Joseph’s brothers reached the point that they sold him into slavery and told their father that a wild animal had killed Joseph. As evidence of Joseph’s demise, they dipped the coat his father had given him into goat’s blood.
The story of Joseph could have ended there, a perfect crime, a perfect alibi, a perfect tale of hatred, but remember that Joseph had the gift for dreaming. He could see the possibilities of the future in the present. It is the gift of dreaming that will guide Joseph’s rise beyond the depths of slavery in Egypt and becoming an advisor to Pharaoh. This happened when Joseph interpreted a dream about seven well fed cows and seven starving cows that Pharaoh had dreamed about. Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream as a sign of seven years of plentiful harvest followed by seven years of famine. Impressed by Joseph’s interpretation of his dream, Pharaoh gave Joseph the responsibility for overseeing the storage of harvests in preparation for the upcoming 7 years of harvest and 7 years of famine. When the famine struck, Joseph was given the responsibility for the sale of grain. It was under these conditions that Joseph’s brothers came to make an appeal for grain as Joseph’s dreams from years earlier became reality when his brothers bowed down before him.
It is the context of Joseph’s encounter with his brothers that we hear today’s scripture lesson from Genesis 45:1-15:
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. 3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 10 You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11 I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ 12 And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. 13 You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” 14 Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
Joseph could have easily exacted revenge upon his brothers, but he had the gift of dreaming. Joseph could have easily made slaves of his brothers, but he had the gift of dreaming. Joseph knew that the purpose of dreaming is not to enslave; the purpose of dreaming is to empower the present through the possibilities of the future. Witnessing to the gift of dreaming, Joseph told his brothers, “God sent me before you to preserve life.”
Rev. Jim Somerville tells of a book called The Critical Years, in which Sharon Parks writes about going to Harvard as a new chaplain and ending up at a faculty reception where she felt nervous and out of place. She was sitting in the corner when an older, well-known faculty member came and sat down beside her. He started a conversation and soon they were talking about his son who had just started college in another state. The professor talked about how hard it was for him to let the boy go off to school and how much he worried about him. Parks found herself saying, “Oh, well, don’t worry. Whatever the worst thing is that you’ve imagined might happen to him won’t. It will be something else.” Looking back on it now she says it seemed like a stupid thing to say, but he jumped on it right away. “Good,” he said, “because I’ve already decided what the worst thing would be.” “Oh, really?” Parks answered. “And what is that?” “The worst thing,” the man said, “would be for him to come to the place where it was no longer possible for him to make meaning.”
How are you making meaning of your life? Your answer may well depend upon how you are living the gift of dreaming.
The Gift of Dreaming
by Pastor Marc Brown
February 20, 2022
Accompanying Scriptures: Genesis 45:1-15
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for February 20, 2021
Scripture Lesson Genesis 45:1-15
The Good News “The Gift of Dreaming”
Music “How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin
Closing Music “Petite Allemande” by Garrett Parker