They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer.” – Genesis 37:19 (NRSV)
If we know the whole story well, we hear the words with a sneer. “Here comes this dreamer,” say the brothers of Joseph, the younger brother is favored by their father. Worse, he lets his older brothers know how clever he is, interpreting dreams that point to his success and their failure. In anger and fear his brothers plot to kill him, because Joseph’s glimmers of what may come to pass upset the hierarchy of the family and the community.
Today, or last week, or right this minute, someone – some dreamer – is casting a vision that may trouble you or trouble me because it does the same thing. This vision threatens some value we hold, or some promise we’ve made, or some understanding that defines us. We may feel hurt, or confused, or angry to hear about it.
If this story had only the dreamer and the murderous siblings, it might end quickly with Joseph dead in a pit. But one brother steps in. Reuben “delivered him out of their hands” (verse 21), and the story continued. It makes me wonder where I might stop today, to make myself think again, to encourage others to hold off, to give us all more time to join in God’s dream and see it realized.
Holy God, help us to see the difference between your dreams for us and our stubborn attachment to the way things have always been. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, new from The Pilgrim Press.