In the Lectionary

August 9, 19A (Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28; Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b)

Small graces can give us hope—even in the pit.

Relationships, in all their frailty and goodness, are at the center of Joseph’s life in both the worst and best of times.

Joseph’s story is present in the collective imagination of even many who would not consider themselves biblically well versed. The story has been told and retold for centuries, and it remains of interest, with varying degrees of accuracy, to modern and postmodern storytellers of stage and film. Joseph the dreamer follows a well-traveled arc of suffering and restoration.

His suffering intensifies quickly in this selection from Genesis 37. It’s tempting to paint Joseph as the young, well-meaning victim of circumstance at the hands of evil brothers and a doddering father, but it makes for a long story told quickly with flat heroes and villains. The richness of this text lies in the exploration of complex relationships: between parents and children, between siblings, and between God and God’s beloved if rebellious people.