Opening Prayer. God of all human history, be the God of me. Amen.
Scripture. Genesis 37:1-8 (The Voice Translation).
1 Jacob ended up settling in the land where his father had lived as a foreigner for many years—in the land of Canaan. 2 Here now is the story of Jacob and his family:
Joseph, when he was a young man of 17, often shepherded the flocks along with his brothers. One day as he was with Bilhah’s and Zilpah’s sons (his half-brothers), he decided to report back to their father about things they were doing wrong. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other children because he came along when he was an old man. So Israel presented Joseph with a special robe he had made for him—a spectacularly colorful robe with long sleeves in it. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than the rest, they grew to hate him and couldn’t find it in themselves to speak to him without resentment or argument.
5 One day Joseph had a dream. When he told the dream to his brothers, they hated him even more.
Joseph: 6 Please listen to this dream I had! 7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood up, and then your sheaves all gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.
Joseph’s Brothers (annoyed): 8 Are you serious? You think you are somehow destined to reign over us? You think you are going to be our king?
This dream and what he told them about it made them hate him even more.
Woven Through The Generations. From Rev. Carter Sample.
When I go home to Arkansas for Christmas time I’m surrounded by nativity scenes. No one sprinkles nativity scenes around their yards and homes as liberally as the south. I’ve seen all sorts of nativities in my time, but never one where a wise man had a rainbow coat! In my head, this rainbow coat was originally Joseph’s coat of many colors and was heirloom that was passed down many generations. Heirlooms, as they often do, get re-gifted to powerful people and somewhere along the way perhaps his coat found its way to this wise man. Now the wise man dons a coat that reminds anyone familiar with the story about a God who broke through jealousy and darkness and brought a light of forgiveness and hope.
The wise men journeyed through the darkness toward the small light that guided them. Hopeful, yet seemingly uncertain of exactly what they were hoping for. Despite all of their wisdom, they bumble through their first interaction with Herod, assuming that everyone is as excited as they are about this potential hope. Herod is not unique, the same jealousy Joseph’s brother harbored against him, still runs through the veins of those who desire their own version of power.
Yet, like Joseph’s story, jealousy and oppression cannot drown out the light. God’s story continues to lift those out of the pit, place the lowly in positions of authority, and shine light onto all that is dark.
I have no idea if the wise man with the rainbow coat is wearing the same one as Joseph. I do know that God’s story of hope and redemption is forever woven into our world and perhaps that’s enough.
Questions for Consideration.
Closing Prayer. God, for your love and faithfulness through all of history, we give you thanks. As we approach your arrival, birth in and through us the courage and persistence to see how you are calling us to be a part of your story and work of hope and redemption. Amen.