Wednesday, December 21, 2016
This is the account of Jacob and his family. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he often tended his father’s flocks. He worked for his half brothers, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. But Joseph reported to his father some of the bad things his brothers were doing. Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him. One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. “Listen to this dream,” he said. “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. Genesis 37:2-8(NLT)
Evans Brown taught me a lot about community. I arrived in the small town of Greenville, Florida in 1996 to serve the little church on the hill. Evans was a church member, and for fun he ran the local electric cooperative. Mr. Brown was a fine, personable, upstanding, but usually quiet man. Just not that first week.
During my first week Evans came by in his old pickup which had holes in the muffler and built before shock absorbers became popular. For three hours we rode every back dusty road in that part of Madison County, with Evans schooling me on whose Aunt or cousin twice-removed used to live there...and all their family history. He included stories of barn-raisings, woodsheds and family dirty laundry lists. It seemed Evans and his wife Shirley were part of the family tree in each story. Whenever we passed a house the story always sounded like it was Shirley’s third-cousin, twice’t removed married to her great Aunt’s neighbor who happened to be the founder of Greenville and great-grandfather to th’ boy that owned the bulldog down at the University of Georgia.
My tour guide and his truck with wheels made of rock dropped me and my aching back at the church late in the afternoon. Before I got a few steps away Evans called out: And by th’ way, Preacher, a bit o' friendly advice - don't pass around nothin' bad 'bout nobody aroun’ heyah; seems like we're all kinda tied together in this town.
Joseph and his brothers were all that, and more! Truth be told, it is community which defines us, refines us, and eventually buries us – some for better, some for worse.
Joseph’s problem was he had a mouth to match his imagination. He was transparent and truthful, but lacked the art of discretion. After all, you can’t help having the kind of dreams you have, but you certainly don’t have to blab about how you dreamed your brothers will someday be your servants. It also didn’t help that their father Jacob gave Joseph a coat that marked him as the favorite.
That community was doomed to heartache!
What about your community? What is it that you’re doing to help that school, that office, that family, or the postal worker who delivers your mail? How are you contributing to the defining, refining or burying of the Josephs in your neighborhood?