Sunday Devotional

Howlands Baptist Church Devotional

Sunday 29 March 2020

 

 

Dear Friends,

The song that’s been going round and round in my head these last

few days is Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and the Amazing

Technicolour Dreamcoat. If you remember, (there are various videos

on the web, one with Donny Osmond at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL6Swa1NJDc ) the words are:

 

I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain

 To see for certain what I thought I knew

Far, far, away, someone was weeping,

 But the world was sleeping

Any dream will do.

 

I wore my coat, with golden lining

Bright colours shining, wonderful and new

 And in the east, the dawn was breaking

And the world was waking

Any dream will do. 

 

A crash of drums, a flash of light

 My golden coat flew out of sight

The colours faded into darkness

 I was left alone.

 

May I return to the beginning

The light is dimming, and the dream is too

The world and I, we are still waiting

Still hesitating

Any dream will do.

 

A crash of drums, a flash of light

My golden coat flew out of sight

The colours faded into darkness

I was left alone 

May I return to the beginning

The light is dimming, and the dream is too

The world and I, we are still waiting 

Still hesitating

Any dream will do.

 

Give me my coloured coat,

My amazing coloured coat!!

 

This song is a brilliant reflection on Joseph’s story (Genesis 37, 39-

50) and I’d like to draw some thoughts from that story for us.

 

First of all Joseph had dreams; dreams of a future where he would

come out on top. As a young boy, he was cocky enough to believe

that he would triumph over his older brothers and get the better of

them. Unfortunately he told them so, thus aggravating his situation

and making his brothers bully him even more. So if we’re Joseph

and the brothers are our nemesis, the coronavirus, let’s have dreams

of a brighter future and an overcoming.

 

Of course, the brothers got so fed up with Joseph that they decided to

put him down a well. Not sure if you may be feeling that you are at

the bottom of a well at the moment. It can be a pretty depressing

time, but be assured that God is there with you. And you won’t be in

that particular low place for long. Joseph wasn’t, his brothers hauled

him out, but only to sell him to the slave traders. So, once we’re out

of the well, our new situation is to be powerless in the hands of

others. We find ourselves subject to the government’s dictates and

the new regulations of the supermarkets. We’re carried off far

from the comfort of what we’ve always known to a new place of

uncertainty.

 

Next, in Joseph’s story he is in Egypt and doing very well in Potiphar’s

household. This is our upswing, we’ve got used to a new way of life

and we’re doing well, rising above the circumstances and making the

best of the situation. Human beings are good at adapting and we’ll

get used to staying at home and being careful with our food and

learning to contact each other by new means. Oh, but then, Joseph is

ambushed by something he hadn’t seen coming, the advances and

subsequent denouncement of Potiphar’s wife. He was doing so

well, but then he’s in a low place again, stuck in prison. What an

example of life’s ups and downs. Just as we get used to our changed

circumstances, another thing comes to lay us low.  Fresh news from

the government, not being able to get some shopping … But Joseph

was still the same, he showed himself to be faithful and dependable

and got made a trustee. We are still the same, we can be faithful and

dependable even in dark times. And God will call on us to be a

“trustee” someone he can depend on to do his will: Caring for others,

interpreting him to them.

 

So we come back to Joseph, a dreamer and an interpreter of dreams.

In the prison he used what he had and honestly interpreted the

dreams of the cupbearer and baker. He didn’t know how doing this

would affect his future, but he used what God had given him at that

time. And then he spent another two years in prison before something

else happened. Please God, we won’t be in isolation for two years, but

three or four months might feel like it! Yet these times of nothing

much happening are still part of God’s plan.

 

After two long years, something did happen. Pharaoh needed

someone to interpret his dreams and Joseph’s past caught up with

him: The cup bearer remembered Joseph. What Joseph did in his

lowest times, when he used the gift of interpretation God had given

him, bore fruit, the cup bearer commended Joseph to Pharaoh.

Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and got put in charge of food

distribution during the time of plenty and the famine. Now, we aren’t

likely to be put in charge of food distribution for the whole country,

but we  are having to be careful with our own store cupboards and

ways of shopping. We are to be in charge of food distribution to the

elderly and vulnerable. In helping others we help ourselves to be

more resilient. This reminds me of St Francis’ prayer, we often sing

the words put to music (again there are numerous versions one, with

words, is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GclOcK38wiw ).

 

Make me a channel of Your peace. 

Where there is hatred let me bring Your love; 

Where there is injury, Your pardon, Lord; 

And where there’s doubt, true faith in You.

 

Oh, Master, grant that I may never seek 

So much to be consoled as to console; 

To be understood as to understand; 

To be loved as to love with all my soul. 

Make me a channel of Your peace.

 

Where there’s despair in life let me bring hope; 

Where there is darkness, only light; 

And where there’s sadness, ever joy. 

Make me a channel of Your peace.

 

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 

In giving to all men that we receive, 

And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

 

 

We all want consolation, understanding and love, especially now, but

it can be more blessed to give than to receive these things. So as we

help others in ways that we’re able at this time, we are blessed

ourselves.

 

Back to Joseph’s story, we find him in a strong position, having

overcome all sorts of difficulties, and what he wants is to meet his

family again, especially his natural brother, Benjamin, and to know

that his father is still alive. His shenanigans in bringing this about; his

hiding his identity from the stepbrothers, his accusing them of theft

are rather perplexing. Perhaps what we can draw from this is the

importance of family, even if they are far away.

Not to mention the hope that one day, before too long, we’ll be

together with them in person.

 

So while we long to “return to the beginning” - we turn our eyes, our

vision, to Jesus the author and protector of our faith and to the God

who is our rock. Joseph’s life was all ups and downs, as ours are at

the moment, but “God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

 

Rev. Kathy Williamson