Narrative Lectionary: Soap Opera in Egypt (Genesis 39:1-23)

RevGalBlogPals | 9/18/2018 | Staff
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Some people live their whole lives in the same hometown, marry the person next door, and work in the family business. Not much changes in their lives from year to year. Joseph is not one of those people. He has more ups and downs in a month than most people ever experience. He moves from being the favorite child in a prosperous family to being a frightened slave, to becoming the overseer of a wealthy house. Then his life changes again, and he becomes unjustly imprisoned. After this episode, (spoiler alert) we know his life will change yet again.

Read the scripture passage here.

Working - Preacher - Commentary - Dr - Jacq

Read the Working Preacher commentary by Dr. Jacq Lapsley here.

Joseph experiences great injustice, first from his brothers and then from his Egyptian master. His story highlights how little control enslaved people have over their own lives, even when they’re highly regarded. Things change fast when you have no say over your life. The same is true for low wage workers in our culture, who are buffeted by draconian corporate policies, stressed out bosses and financial worry. It also evokes the lives of people who are unjustly accused, and don’t have the resources to defend themselves.

Story - God - Joseph - Work - God

Twice, the story reassures us that God causes Joseph’s work to prosper. God is with Joseph in such powerful ways that the people around him notice that favor, and give him greater freedom, which also benefits them.

The story is long on plot and short on character development, as soap operas are, so we don’t know how Joseph reacts to the dramatic changes in his life. Is he confident of God’s presence? In despair? Bitter? Full of questions?

Sermon - Possibilities

Sermon possibilities:

The sermon might consider the Joseph figures in our lives – people unjustly accused or imprisoned. It’s easy to forget about them when they’re out of sight....
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