“Joseph Forgiveness ” a Service for at Home on Sunday 20th February 2022. We thank the person who has prepared this service for us.

CALL TO WORSHIP
Jesus says: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

Hymn Singing the Faith 53 How shall I sing that majesty?

Prayer of adoration and confession
King of glory
we pile words
one on top of the other
straining to reach you
to come into your awesome presence
and tell you
what you are to us
and from the height of your love
you listen to us

Mighty Word
we stretch our minds
to know you
to comprehend
what you are
and in the breadth of your love
you embrace us

Lord of our lives
we are so tired
so weary and worn
there is so much that needs doing
the wrong words come too easily
and we close our minds
to the needs of others

open our hearts
to each other
calm our rush and bustle
to receive you
and from the depth of your love
forgive us

In Jesus name
AMEN

Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. AMEN.

Hymn Singing the Faith 164 Your words to me are life and health

Reading Genesis 45 vv 3-11, 15
Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come closer to me.’ And they came closer. He said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, “Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.” And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
Reading Luke 6 vv 27-38
But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’

Hymn Singing the Faith 507 O for a heart to praise my God

Sermon
Joseph carried around some very dark memories: memories of his brothers grabbing him, stripping him, throwing him down a well with no water, no food, just the fear. Memories of their voices, half-heard above him: snatches of “get rid of him” “kill him.” Of the sound of jingling harness and strange accents and being hauled up and handed over to slave traders. Of the shame of standing in the slave market having his teeth inspected and being prodded and poked. Memories of Potiphar’s wife accusing him, of the shock and disappointment and anger on Potiphar’s face, of the doors of the prison clanging shut behind him. The years in prison. Nights in his cell with the thought that he had been forgotten, that no-one cared any more, that the only person who did care was his father, and he thought he was dead.
Yet there were other memories he could cling to: what it was like to live within the security of his big bustling family, to feel his mother’s arms around him, to play with his little brother Benjamin. His father’s pride in him. His own pride when Jacob gave him his glorious coat of many colours. Reuben trying so hard to persuade the others not to kill him. The concerned look in the face of one of the slave traders holding a water bottle to his lips, so dry from a night in the well. Potiphar catching his eye, smiling, trusting him, relying on him. The prison warder noticing him, trusting him, relying on him. The memories of being remembered, summoned before Pharaoh and given power and authority: the trust of the highest in the land.
Yet the memories he wants to keep fresh, the good memories, the memories of kindness, of being valued and trusted, cannot be separated from the dark memories
of being betrayed, accused, attacked, forgotten.
In his new life, dressed in fine linen, surrounded by servants, a loving wife and children, in charge of the granaries of Egypt, Joseph’s past comes back to haunt him. Here they are – his brothers who had done the first terrible deed that made him a slave and a prisoner and Pharaoh’s right-hand man. Here they are: his enemies. What is he going to do with them? Punish them? Do to them what they did to him? Or find out whether they have changed?
They do not recognise him but they remember him. His loss has overshadowed the life of the whole family in Jacob’s grief and their own guilt. “We are twelve brothers” they tell Joseph. “Sons of one father.” They have come to Egypt for the sake of the family and not just for themselves: Joseph tests that loyalty and finds it does not break.
Finally and at last comes the moment of truth. “Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Make everyone leave my presence!” Twelve brothers, the sons of one father reunited in grief and forgiveness
“I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! Do not be distressed
and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.”
Joseph had become this man as a result of all that had happened to him, the bad and the good. He was no longer the self-important young man who had set his brothers against him with his dreams of being the centre of attention. Instead he was a man who used his gifts in the service of others and in the service of God.
People change. What we do and what has been done to us make us what we are. Joseph forgave his brothers because he found they had changed .they were no longer his enemies. But Jesus asks even more of us. “Do good to those who hate you.” “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” “Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.”
We are called be the ones who change. To do to others as we would have them do to us. To make the first moves. I was at a Charles Wesley Society conference in Belfast
a year or so ago, with learned speakers from round the world presenting papers and research on eighteenth century Methodist history. But the person impressed me most
spoke of more recent events. His name was Harold Good and he had been involved in the process that had put the IRA’s weapons “beyond use.” I scribbled his words in the back of my diary. He said that to bring reconciliation, to bring a new beginning, we need confession, forgiveness and grace. And what is grace? The power to say that the new beginning is for everybody whether they deserve it or not.
Thanks be to God

Hymn Singing the Faith 611 Brother, sister, let me serve you

Intercessions
Jesus, Master
you call us to follow in your footsteps
to be your servants,
bearing witness to what we have heard and seen.
Fill our mouths with your words
and our hearts with your love
so that what we say and what we do may show you to the world
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer
Father God
we pray for a world of anger and unhealed wounds
where people do not listen
close their minds to what they don’t want to hear
posture and shout their defiance.
May your voice be heard
encouraging and demanding
prodding us into your way of peace
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for a world of grief and pain
of unheard voices
silenced by poverty and injustice
may our voice be heard speaking where they cannot speak
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Risen Master
you have called us your friends
help us to live up to that honour
be with us, our neighbours and our friends
in whatever ways we need
in the breaking of bread
in companionship along the road
present help when work is hard
We remember them now before you in the silence

fill them with your strength, encourage them
and give them your peace
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

For all the faithful members of Christ
who have witnessed by their lives to his redeeming love
those whose names are still cherished among us,
and those who, lost to our poor human memory, ever live with God
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Holy Spirit, fill us, empower us to live the resurrection life
reborn and renewed
by the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord
who speaks our name in the morning light
and walks beside us as the shadows fall
AMEN

Hymn Singing the faith 494 Come, thou fount of every blessing

Blessing
Glory be to you
King of Kings
Lord of our lives
Patiently teaching us your ways
Showing us your love
From generation to generation

Glory be to you
Merciful Father
Rejoicing in new beginnings
Healed wounds
And second chances

Glory be to you
Prince of Peace
For light and life
And everlasting hope
AMEN