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  • St. Andrew's Newsletter September 06

    I've been quiet on here - the summer services have been a little bit different and did not involve sermons that could be noted very easily - so I didn't. And then I've been on holiday - another Greenbelt giving sustenance for the year to come, don't know what I'd do without it!

    So to get me back in the posting habit, and for a slight diversion  - a newsletter article - quickly written after the editors deadline (I was on holiday!)

    So is Joseph a good guy or a bad guy?

    Joseph is the character who brings the Book of Genesis to an end, he is the favoured son of Jacob; he has the coat of many colours;  dreams about his brothers, father, mother bowing down before him;  sold into slavery; unfairly accused of rape; imprisoned; his interpretation of dreams leads him before Pharaoh and he emerges as the Vizier charged with controlling all Egypt's resources and sure enough the brothers who sent him into slavery bow down before him; he has time to trick them all before Surprise! Surprise! the family are reunited - and they all live happily ever after.

    It is often told as an heroic story of  courage, perseverance, faithfulness, blessing, forgiveness. We can be encouraged to follow our dreams, to use our power and ability for the greater good, to see God's blessing in our personal success. Many will tell it as a story of salvation - for through Joseph his family are preserved and God's promise to Abraham is maintained. Hence, Joseph is the ultimate good guy - overcoming every obstacle to emerge triumphant.

    Or maybe there is another way to see Joseph - as the bad guy whose ambition always thrusts him forward stepping on anybody who gets in his way. It causes him problems but in the end he gets revenge on his brothers and all embracing power for himself. In the beginning God is centre stage, vocal, creative, generous, abundant - 50 chapters later God is marginalised and silenced, and the chosen people have been led out of the promised land into slavery.  It could be argued that Joseph plays a major role in that process.

    In Sharing Stories on  Wednesday afternoons we are following Joseph's story, and asking ourselves, is he a good guy or a bad guy? Does his story speak to our story? Who are our heroes and villians? Come and join us (1.30pm in the Church Office) share in the Joseph story and the story of all who participate.

    September 6th - Joseph & Mrs Potiphar
    September 20th - The Cupbearer and the Baker
    October 4th - Pharaoh's dreams
    October 18th - Joseph in charge

    Be blessed

  • Hallfold August 06

    Over the summer we are looking at a number of biblical characters - as chosen by whoever is leading the service. Hence, you will get the chance to learn something about Moses, Peter and Esther. For my two services during that time I have decided to look at two of the women from the Old Testament, Ruth and Hannah. I find both of their stories fascinating, they give an insight into some of the social customs of their time; they speak of love and devotion; they show that despite the gap in time and culture, many of our basic concerns are similar - do we belong? What is our role in this community? What can we pass on to our children?

    Ruth is the Moabite widow who comes to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi. She is saved by social customs that provide for the feeding of the poor and her deceased husbands inheritance is ensured by her marriage to one of his kinsmen. My reading of the story is that Boaz loved Ruth, but their marriage is essentially a business transaction. That may go against the grain in our understanding of marriage as a love match, but we still have traces of it when the bride is "given away" and marriage still provides a legal protection for both partners and the children of that relationship that the modern custom of living together fails to provide unless specific steps are taken to draw up a contract.

    Hannah is the senior but childless wife of Elkanah, who because of her infertility has to face the taunts of his second child-producing wife. It is one of the marriages that causes me to smile when people hold up the monogamous whole-life pattern of marriage as the biblical model. In fact biblical models cover a whole host of social customs and the constant themes are about faithfulness, responsibility, care for one another within the social customs of the time. One of the themes in the Hannah story is about the role of a childless woman, Hannah believes she is not fulfilled until she has a child, Elkanah loves her, sons or no sons. When Hannah does have a son she dedicates him to God and he becomes Samuel - one of Israel's great prophet leaders. In her joy Hannah sings a wonderful hymn of praise which will be mirrored by Mary when she learns that she is to bear Jesus. 

    So I would encourage you to come a learn something about our own lives, relationships and calling from the stories we hear over the summer - in all of them we are called to live as the people of God, honouring the saints who walk before us and preparing the ground for those who will follow.

    Have fun