From Pastor Ara Guekguezian
…of the summer of 2017, I began preparing for a series of sermons on Genesis, particularly considering three of the most interesting and instructive people in our scripture: Abram/Abraham, Jacob/Israel, and Joseph.
My endeavor led to a study of Genesis by a couple of folks at Big Red. We still have not moved past the first eleven chapters of the Beginning. After every hour, the comments invariably include ‘we are still not finished with the discussion of (a very particular issue).’ And I smile and thank God for such people in my life. We ‘get’ each other. Not every question gets a final answer. Life is not a bigger or realer version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ Genesis is a particular community’s response to a universe full of hardship, challenge, and pleasure. God’s people, the Hebrews, thoughtfully and intelligently propose a way to live, a particular perspective that in the right hands, continues to work today.
The task of translating a word from 4000 years ago to be understood today is the most exciting and engaging challenge. And this brings me to the three aforementioned heroes of the Bible. I have moments of identification with Abraham and Jacob. I struggle to embrace God’s call to me on a daily, even hourly, basis. There are many moments of a conflicted response to God’s call to me and my understanding as shepherd as God’s call to my people.
But Joseph is a superior human. Read his story from Genesis 37–50 during the month of August. Take time to imagine and reflect upon your response to the external circumstances of his young life. Joseph not only endures but flourishes in horrible circumstance, beginning with the betrayal by his brothers. How? That is the easiest of the questions to answer. Joseph was convinced that everything that happens in his life is part of God’s grand plan for his life. This conviction gives him the strength, the focus, to endure. I have found Joseph to be most instructive for my life and life of the congregations I have served.
We at the Big Red Church have had a long life, full of challenges, hardships, and great joys. We have enjoyed seasons of abundance and seasons of drought. Here we are. How? God has a particular call to us. In this season of a renewed emphasis on the tribe, we continue to bear witness to God’s call of welcome to all. Come in as you are: broken, heavy laden with burdens of the day. We will welcome one another. We will not take the burden away, but we will share it. We will exhibit the kindness, the compassion, the strength, the endurance to walk together under God’s love as long as we have breath.
Aspiring to emulate Joseph as a community, I pray and hope.