Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt. During the seven plenteous years the earth produced abundantly. He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it. So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance—like the sand of the sea—that he stopped measuring it; it was beyond measure. Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons, whom Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him. Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh,‘For’, he said, ‘God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.’ The second he named Ephraim, ‘For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.’
For those familiar with the musical it can be difficult to read the story of Joseph without the soundtrack playing in the background. And so as the story progresses and Joseph’s fortunes change the musical also changes gear with a fast pace narrative and upbeat tune to reflect positivity and efficiency. Positivity in the sense that a series of events has taken Joseph from a favoured position in his large family to a pit, slavery and prison, rising now to be Pharaoh’s “number two”. It also demonstrates the efficiency and skill of Joseph as he plans, organises and prepares to ensure Egypt takes full advantage of the present and gets ready for a period of anticipated famine. So we discover, as the events unfold, that Joseph can indeed accurately interpret dreams and that he is a very capable character. In the last section of today’s text we also discover Joseph’s commitment to God. Not only has he risen to hold a powerful position in Egypt, but he now also has a wife and two sons. Times are indeed good for Joseph and in the naming of his sons he has not forgotten God in all of the newly found busyness, responsibilities and joys of his life. Perhaps a reminder to us that God is ever present. We can easily make time to turn to God in times of despair, loss and suffering when the soundtrack to our life slows and becomes downbeat. Just as easily, do we also take time to turn to God in the times when all seems well and our soundtrack has a fast pace narrative with an upbeat tune?
Ever present God, Make me realise that you are always here. In my despair and my joy. In the quiet times and the busy times. In times of sadness and sorrow. In times of celebration and smiles. When I am lonely. When I am surrounded by family and friends. For your constant patience and presence I offer you my thanks today. Amen
The Rev’d David Scott is minister of Duke Street and Saughtonhall URCs in Edinburgh.