Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This morning, we hear about the adventures of Joseph. Joseph was the eleventh (and favorite) son of Jacob, the grandson of Isaac, and the great grandson of Abraham. Here is what happened before we meet Joseph in this reading. Joseph lived with his mother and father and his eleven brothers. They were shepherds. The other brothers tended the sheep, and did all the work, while Joseph stayed home with his parents, where he was apparently spoiled rotten. Jacob sent him out to check on his brothers, and ratted him out to his father. Among other things, Jacob had given Joseph a very fancy coat.
So the brothers took Joseph and threw him in a dry well. And when some Midianites came by, they sold him to them as a slave. We catch up with Joseph, who is serving as a slave in Potiphar’s house, as we hear that God was with Joseph and everything he touched prospered! Potiphar’s wife was not happy when Joseph refused her advances. He was, after all, only a slave. So, she made up a story that he assaulted her, which she told Potiphar, and Joseph ended up in prison. God was with Joseph even in prison. He ended up taking charge of the inmates.
When we say, “God be with you,” or “The Lord be with you,” we do not expect that you will suddenly be able to do amazing things and become a millionaire. And I don’t think that is the point of this story. The point of this story is partly to tell the history of Abraham’s descendants. In fact, we will soon be reading about Moses and the Exodus from slavery in Egypt . But that happens hundreds of years later. The point I want to make is that God was with Joseph and his children and all the people of Israel, not just when amazing things were happening and there was prosperity. God was with them in the bad times of slavery and famine.
Sometimes we might hear someone say, “God was with me when I got a parking space right in the front of the store.” Well, I’m here to tell you God must not like me as much as that person, because I usually end up with a hike from my car to the store! I am not saying that God wasn’t with that person when they got that nice parking spot. But I don’t think that God was waiting for that person to come, and “saved” the parking place for them. God did not create humanity to bless some people and not others. God is a God of love, and wants to be in relationship with us, calls us God’s “beloved children” and yes, God is with us always, in the good times and the bad times.
When Jesus came to live among God’s children, he came to reunite humanity with God in a new way. But God always loves every single person, every bit of creation. Notice that God was with Joseph in whatever situation he found himself—the good and the bad. God was with him in the good times and the horrible times. I know we are all still struggling a little, in what could be the end of this pandemic and some kind of new normal. But what we can hold on to is that God loves us and God is with us always. Amen.