Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your bothers, ‘Do this: load your animals and go back to the land of Canaan. Take your father and your households and come to me, so that I may give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you may enjoy the fat of the land.’ You are further changed to say, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. Give no thought to your possessions, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’” Genesis 45: 17-19, NRSV
In the story of Joseph, we see the Pharaoh listening to Joseph and following Joseph’s counsel. Joseph is a foreigner. He is an outsider. He is an alien. And he begins his time in Egypt as a slave. He is from the bottom of a rigidly tiered society. And yet Pharaoh takes Joseph’s advice and recommendations seriously, he respects Joseph, and does what Joseph suggests.
How often would a national leader in the US take the counsel of a low class, foreigner who has spent time in jail? We would probably just be trying to deport the person!
In the recent session of the Florida State legislature, there was a bill presented to allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns openly. There was also a proposed bill to allow people to carry concealed weapons on state college and university campuses. It is hard to see how these bills could do anything but open the door to more shootings and violence. Thankfully, both of these bills failed to be passed and will not become law though they had substantial support in some quarters. But it is hard to conceive that these bills were even seriously considered and yet they were. We can see how the world gets the impression that America loves guns.
Recently, an international $1 million dollar prize was awarded to Hanan al-Hroub for excellence in teaching. She is a teacher in al-Bireh just outside of Ramallah in the West Bank. Al-Hroub is a Palestinian, an Arab, and a woman. And yet she won this prestigious award. She is committed to teaching peace. Her mantra is ‘no to violence’ and she stresses the need for dialogue. She is absolutely committed to creating peace through non violence and this is the focus of her educational efforts. Chances are she probably wouldn’t win a teaching award in the state of Florida. [See Tampa Bay Times, 3/14/16, “Palestinian wins $1M Global Teacher Prize”]
Maybe we should wise up like Pharaoh and listen to this foreigner, this person of low status, this outsider, this woman. Maybe we should be taking her seriously and listening to what she says, and implementing her vision. She is showing us the way to being a free, safe, democratic society.
In the UCC we say that God Is Still Speaking. We don’t limit where this speaking comes from because we do not limit God.
May we listen to what we need to hear, even when it is difficult, or comes from an unlikely source. Everyone can be a voice for Divine Love and healing. Amen.