XI Pentecost

August 20, 2017

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. AMEN.

Her name was Deb.  It was thirty years ago when I entered Bangor Seminary.  She was one of the Episcopal students at a seminary of the United Church of Christ.  I had grown up in the United Church of Christ, and was trying to find a U.C.C. church to attend while in seminary.  I was attending a different church every Sunday.

One week, Deb invited a group of us to attend her Episcopal Church – St. John’s in Bangor.  I went along.  When the service was over, I thought to myself – “I like that.  I think I will try it for a month.”  When the month was up, I continued to attend.  When I returned that summer to the church I grew up in, I felt like something was missing.  I guess God wanted me to become an Episcopalian.

Interestingly, Deb got married to one of the other seminarians and never finished at seminary.  They moved away.  I haven’t seen her for nearly thirty years.

In this morning’s lesson from Genesis, we continue to read from the story of Joseph.  We read last week about how he was hated by his brothers and sold into slavery.  As we know, he ended up in jail and was able to interpret the dreams of two of the Pharaoh’s servants.  This eventually led him to interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh himself.

Pharaoh put him in charge of much of his kingdom.  There was a great famine.  Joseph’s father sends Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to buy food to eat.  The Brothers ended up in front of Joseph who does not tell them in that moment that he is their long lost brother.  He sends them home to bring their brother Benjamin back with them.

In today’s lesson, Joseph reveals who he is to his brothers.  But he does not do so with any anger or vengeance.  Instead, he explains to them that what they had done to him was a part of God’s plan so that he could be in Egypt to save them.  Ironically, it was a fulfillment of the very dreams that had made Joseph’s brothers hate him.  They did indeed bow before him.

Deb did not know that when she invited a group of seminarians to go to her Church, that it would be such a momentous turning point in my life.  That simple invitation set me on a winding path that brought me here – where I was supposed to be.  I had no idea thirty years ago that I would be an Episcopal priest in Berlin, Maryland.  I had never set foot in an Episcopal Church or in Ocean City Maryland.  But God’s plans were greater than my own dreams for myself.

Joseph would have never guessed that to end up in charge of most of Egypt he would first have to be thrown into a pit and sold into slavery.  I am sure that when he was in that pit, he would never have guessed he would end up where did.

There are two questions I think we need to ask ourselves.  One – what are God’s dreams for us as individuals and as a Parish?  And Two – when and how does God use us to get other people to the place they need to be so that God’s dreams for them can come true?

The common threads in both of these questions are that it is ultimately God who has a plan, and that we need to be ever listening and open to God’s leadings.

Who knows what God’s plans are for us as individuals or as a Parish?  But one thing that I can attest to from my own experience – God’s dreams for us are always greater than the ones we can imagine for ourselves.  Thanks be to God.  AMEN.