Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Green Eyes

August 10:

Call:       Genesis 37: 1-8
Text:       Genesis 37: 12-28
Reading:    W&S # 186
Psalm:  Psalm 105   (828)
Closing:    Romans 10:9-13

                Green Eyes





These are Jacob's first ten sons    - in order of their birth

And these are Joseph's ten older brothers
    Obviously, still in the order of their birth

Six of them - the oldest four and the two youngest
    Were the sons of Jacob by his wife Leah

You remember Leah,
    She was Rachel's older sister
The one who was substituted for Rachel
As her father Laban tricked Jacob
    And thus got seven more years of work out of him.

Of the two sisters,
Rachel was the more loved
But Leah was the more fertile

In fact, for years Rachel was not fertile at all.

She was so distressed by her failure to produce a child that,
    after Leah had given birth to those first four boys,
    Rachel gave her servant Bilhah to Jacob
        In a desperate attempt
to give him sons by proxy or surrogate.

And Bilhah did just that: giving birth to Dan and Naphtali
    But even then, Rachel still felt incomplete

This was particularly the case when Leah caught on
To this way of providing sons without labor pains

And following Rachel's example,
gave Jacob her servant, Zilpah
    To be her proxy or surrogate.

Zilpah produced two more sons
    Gad and Asher.

After their birth Leah herself produced the last tow in our list.


After all those years of years of futility  and infertility;
After all those years of watching her sister turn out baby boy after baby boy;
After all those years of despondency and all those feelings of inadequacy,
    Rachel found herself to be "with child."
And she gave birth to Joseph.

Jacob was delighted!
    Rachel - the wife for whose hand he had worked 14 years - had given him a son

And as delighted as he was to have a son by her
    He was also joyous for her

Jacob knew how difficult it had been for Rachel

Jacob knew that each time she had failed to conceive
    Was even more disappointing than the previous time.

Jacob knew that despite his great love for her
    Rachel had felt herself a failure as a wife
    She had felt that she was inadequate and incomplete

And so, he was as happy for Rachel as he was for himself.

Jacob's joy and happiness had to be obvious.
    To Leah,        and to Bilhah,  and to Zilpah.

And it had to be obvious
To Reuben, Simeon, and Levi
To Issachar and Zebulun
And to the five boys in between.

Yeah,   it had to be obvious.
So obvious in fact,
that even if we had never heard this story before
        And most of us have heard it
since we were in early elementary school

But even if we hadn't
    We would only need a few minutes - perhaps just seconds -
To figure out the impact that Joseph's birth
   was to have on the ten with whose names we began this message.

For jealousy and resentment in the less favored
are the twin offspring of such favoritism.

Our call to worship has made that plain
    Our text will make it clear to us just how deep those twin emotions were.

But very frequently there is a third offspring
    An arrogance in the favorite himself.

Genesis does not specifically declare that Joseph became arrogant
    But what took place in the call to worship certainly hints at it.

For you remember how he described to his brothers
the dream in which their sheaves bowed down to his.
And the brothers concluded (correctly!) that he was telling them that he would have dominion over them.

And later he told them about a second and similar dream which reinforced the first.

His telling his brothers of these dreams
    If not convincing proof of arrogance
    Was at least powerful evidence that he had no filter.

Think about it:
    What good reason could he have had to tell them?
    Could anything good have resulted from his doing so?

I picture Joseph basically saying,
    You may be my big brothers now
    But when I grow up I'll be      "The boss over you."

Bad enough,
    But then I picture him adding,  "This is what God wants."

In short, telling his brothers of his dreams
    Was like rubbing sand into a wound.

Is there anyone in this room
    Who, after observing your father (or mother) dote on your younger brother - or sister,
 Would not have felt the pain and hurt the older brothers felt?

Is there anyone in this room
    Who, after hearing your kid bother tell you about a vision that God was going to make him ruler over you
    Can truthfully say you would not have been angry
        Especially after he told you of a second vision
            That he claimed confirmed the first?

I don't think so.

In fact, I suspect that for a few here today,
    The story conjures up some painful family memories

This story is about a familiar emotional reaction:   jealousy

And as we all know, our emotions can easily
take control over our thoughts and our reasoning
Our emotions can cause us to do something
    We cannot even imagine ourselves doing.

If the emotions are love and compassion,
    We may find ourselves doing something wonderful
        Like mission and caring and nourishment
        Like providing the poor with shelter, clothing, and medicine
Like letting outcasts know they are important
By sharing a smile, a friendly word,
and a helpful hand
    with people whom we might otherwise have walked past without a second glance

But if the emotions are Jealousy and resentment
They can and they often do;
Cause us to do something terrible

And in our text they did just that.     [Genesis 37: 12-28]

There is no one here who wants to be one of the ten older brothers
        Not even Reuben
Who, at least wanted to rescue his brother
But     who still participated in covering up what had been done.

Reuben  Simeon    Levi  and Judah
Dan and Naphtali
Gad and Asher
Issachar and Zebulun

Those ten men allowed jealousy, envy, and resentment
    To build up inside them to such an extent
    That they sold their annoying kid brother into slavery

But, at least in doing so,  they taught us a lesson
For when we hear their story
- Even when we relate to their frustration over their father's favoritism -
all of us are appalled
and     none of us want to be like them.

And we know how to avoid actions like theirs.
Oh, yes we do!

We avoid them by allowing Christ's lessons of
        love, compassion, forgiveness, and sacrifice
    to triumph over
Shakespeare's green eyed monster of jealousy,
and its companions: envy, resentment and anger

 Why would any of us ever choose to do otherwise?

"Why?"  "Why?"  "Why?"