Viewing entries tagged
Genesis

Joseph

Joseph

Over the past few years, we have been seeing what the Bible has always known: that human stories, when viewed through the lens of faith, teach us how to live. Together we have explored the stories of Abraham and Jacob. This year we come to the story of Joseph.

The journey of Joseph’s complicated relationship with his brothers will be our focus for this fall season. This is a common and extraordinary tale: sibling rivalries, dreams of destiny, acts of betrayal, realizations of loss, sudden reversals, acts of kindness, restored peace. And in this whole mix, there is God. In fact, like any really good story, there is more going on here than at first meets the eye.

Joseph was a person in process, just as we continue to be. We see him grow up from a despised younger brother to a respected leader, from one presumed dead to the centre of life and action. And if we pay close enough attention, we might see what perceptive readers have always noticed: that Joseph’s story carries an uncanny resemblance to the story of Jesus himself.


Joseph 1: But First… - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

We will not do justice to Joseph without remembering where he comes from. When the Hebrews called their God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, it was their way of rooting their identity in their experience of God and their history as a people. 


Joseph 2: Big Dreams, Bad Timing - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Nahum Sarna describes the story of Joseph as “set forth by a master storyteller who employs with consummate skill the novelistic techniques of character delineation, psychological manipulation, and dramatic suspense.” You are invited to pay attention to how this beautiful narrative is put together and to listen to those particular moments when it speaks to us about what it means to be human.


Joseph 3: Brothers Gone Bad - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This week we’re looking at how the brothers’ hurt that has not been dealt with turns into rejection and sets off a series of events that will eventually shape Joseph into a person of welcome. 


Joseph 4: #metoo - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Today we follow Joseph to Egypt and see how the presence of God manifests itself in small and big ways in Joseph’s life and creates an alternative reading of reality that exposes the imbalances of power.


Joseph 5: In the Pit - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

So far the intent of the story was to get us to listen to the voices we do not usually listen to and to pay attention to the more complex and nuanced perspectives of the world. Today we are talking about what it feels like to be stuck and forgotten, and yet never outside of the Divine presence and grace.


Joseph 6: Smart v Wise - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Last week, we were invited to pause our conversation after the chief cupbearer forgot all about his friend Joseph and left him in prison for another two years. Today we are looking at more dreams and what it means to speak peace in wisdom.


Joseph 7: Plan Well - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This week we are moving from smart and wise to strategy, and we will consider practical plans for big problems. 


Joseph 8: Who Moves First - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Today we are bringing the story to a close by focusing on the reconciliation of Joseph and his family. 

Ritual

Ritual

We believe we need a recovery of sorts. Contemporary culture has pushed us to think that public life is mostly structured (show up on time, fulfill your obligations, do your job), but private life is mostly unstructured (free time to use as you see fit). But what happens then when spiritual life is relegated to the unstructured part of life, to our private“off work” world where there are few obligations? Well, it tends to exist in emotional spurts, through momentary impulses. It tends to lose focus. You know what I am talking about.

And so the recovery we need is the wisdom of basic spiritual ritual. Grace is not only a gift, grace is also a way of being. Grace is the life we are called to enter, the life of form and formation.

It’s been said that we don’t so much think our way into new life but instead live our way into new thinking. In this way, our spiritual identities are shaped through sustained commitments to gracious practices: practices of time like honouring sabbath, practices of stewardship like generous giving, practices of self-forgetfulness like service.

This is a series about some of our central rituals: work, rest and play.


The Ritual of Work - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

If what drives our imagination of work is hoping we won’t have to, that’s a problem— because work was created by God to be holy. In fact, the very beginning of Genesis starts with God doing work. And then humanity is tasked with doing more of the same— more work. They are instructed to take care of the land around them, and be fruitful, and to reproduce. Work wasn’t originally supposed to be just about surviving. It was (and is) the way we participate with God in the ongoing creation of the world.


The Ritual of Rest - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This week we spoke about how work and rest depend on one another— all rest without work isn’t healthy, nor is all work and no rest. Sometimes rest is actually harder than work; while work tends to have tangible outcomes, rest can feel unproductive. We may think that sabbath rest is something God wants from us… but it was actually something God wanted to give to us. Sabbath shows us that while we are loved for what we offer, we are equally loved for what we don’t.


The Ritual of Play - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Play is the space where we can give ourselves what we need to be who we are, and where we can give to something outside of ourselves. Giving time to that hobby you never seem to have time for, investing in the relationships that matter to you, and serving those in your community… this is all play. It is where we create and contribute and participate in the stories that sit somewhere firmly between work and rest.


Jacob

Jacob

When a story is true, not just in fact but in its connection to life as it really is, it becomes a source of life. We get carried along with gracious surprise, finding pieces of ourselves, and who God is for us. This fall we follow the story of Jacob, that conflicted and restless man who wrestled with God.

One of our favourite theologians, Abraham Heschel, teaches us that the Bible is more about God’s search for us than our search for God. Jacob’s story is proof of that concept. For what we see here, in vibrant detail, is how God chases Jacob, pursuing him through his wanderings and failures until at the end of his story we see him fully caught by grace. He realizes all that has happened: “[Jacob] worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.” (Gen 47:31)

This story has it all. The mystery of birth order, the stress of sibling rivalry, the common seeds of relational breakdown, the consequences of falsity, the hope of romance, the long years of labour, the burden of an unreconciled past, the glory of forgiveness, the life- changing effect of wrestling with God. It’s all here. 


Video

Surprise! It's twins - Genesis 25:21-26

Even before Jacob and Esau are born their destinies seem predetermined. Their mother receives a message from God and even their names seem to describe the stories that will unfold in their lives. But if that's the case what does it means for us to engage with these ancient tales trusting that God is wiling to experience our journey alongside us, both the predictable and the unexpected?

Discussion Notes - Part 1


Birthrights - Genesis 25:27-34

So the boys grow up. One loves the outdoors and the other stays home near the tents. One is impulsive and brash and the other is crafty and opportunistic. Both have something to teach us.

Discussion Notes - Part 2


Hairy Arms - Genesis 27

Sometimes it feels like we need to take things into our own hands. But often when we do, and when we let loose our moral compass in the pursuit of what we think is 'good' we end up causing more damage than we imagined. God is interested in where we go. But God is equally interested in how we get there.

Discussion Notes - Part 3


On the Run - Genesis 28

The surprising thing about grace is that not only does often meet us in unexpected moments but that when it does it often speaks unexpected words. And here even as Jacob runs from his failures, his encounter with the divine is characterized by a scandalous grace and peace. 

Discussion Notes - Part 4


7 (14) Year Wedding - Genesis 29

Just when Jacob is starting to get his life back on track things take a strange turn. And this time Jacob is one who gets cheated. What does it mean when our best intentions don't produce the kind of results we imagined. Is God any less near to us?  * In the sermon Jeremy references a video about the #MeToo hashtag. You can find that video here.

Discussion Notes - Part 5


Face to Face - Genesis 31

Often times when we are deeply ashamed we attempt to cover our face. Sometimes even physically, more often by hiding behind a gift, or an email, or a gesture. However, somethings can only be done face to face and this is something Jacob will have to learn.

Discussion Notes - Part 6


Wrestling with God - Genesis 32

Well, this is it. The throwdown in Torah. The wrestling match between Jacob and YHWH. What a mysterious encounter as Jacob wrestles 'a man' but comes to know that somehow in the midst of his struggle he has encountered God directly. 

Discussion Notes - Part 7


Reconciliation - Genesis 33

Everything comes full circle as Jacob and Esau stand face to face once again. But this time both men have become something very different than they were at the start of this story. There is growth and maturity and reoconcilaition to encounter in this final story of Jacob.

Discussion Notes - Part 8


Audio

Abraham:

Abraham:

Abraham

We love the Biblical stories. We love what they do for us and in us.

This fall we follow the wanderer Abraham, the “father of many” and the “father of faith”, who “went, not knowing where he was going”. Abraham was living his response to the voice which had told him (past) to “go” from his home country, and to journey (present) to the land God would (future) show him.

The writer Thomas Cahill suggests that those little words — “Abraham went” — are two of the boldest words ever written. They mark a departure from the cycle of never-ending sameness which defined that world, the cycle of repetition it seemed impossible to break out of. But in obedience to the call, Abraham began to move towards the possibility of something new, something unseen yet promised.

And so we wander these weeks with our father Abraham, seeing his story and ourselves in his story. Abraham shows us what it means to “walk by faith, not by sight”. All of God’s children who walk by faith are, in this sense, children of Abraham.

Use the menu in the top left corner of the video to skip to any part of the series.


Genesis 11:31-12:1 - Jeremy Duncan

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Genesis 12:4-20 - Jeremy Duncan

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Genesis 13 - Jeremy Duncan

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Genesis 14-15:6 - Jeremy Duncan

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Genesis 15 - Jeremy Duncan

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Genesis 18:20-19:29 - Jeremy Duncan

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Genesis 21 - Devon Scott

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Genesis 22 - Jeremy Duncan

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