Resisting Cultural Pressure

Scripture Focus: Genesis 50.24-26
24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” 

26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Reflection: Resisting Cultural Pressure
By John Tilman

Joseph assimilated a great degree into Egyptian culture.

It was impossible for Joseph to prevent or resist some assimilation to the culture he was unwillingly trapped in. Rising out of slavery did not make this easier. Greater levels of privilege create greater pressure to assimilate.

Joseph married into a powerful, prominent family. His father-in-law, Potiphera, was high priest of the Egyptian sun god, Re in the city of On, better known by its Greek name Heliopolis, meaning “City of the Sun.”

Joseph adopted Egyptian dress and cultural practices, including Egyptian burial practices for his beloved father and himself. (Genesis 50.2, 26)

However, Joseph maintained faithfulness to God and adapted to maintain his identity in many ways. He affirmed God as the source of his sexual ethic and his skills of interpretation. He named his children referencing his faith. He secured his family a separate area in which to live.

Regardless of his level of cultural assimilation or his comfort and privilege, Joseph recognized that Egypt was not his home, nor that of his descendants, nor that of the descendants of his brothers. Assuring his brothers that God would “come to your aid” (Genesis 50.25) meant assuming that they would need God’s aid.

Did “that dreamer” (Genesis 37.19-20) have another prophetic dream from God? If so, scripture does not report it. However, with or without divine revelation, Joseph saw trouble coming for his family in Egypt.

We also face these cultural pressures. Trouble is coming. Our culture does its best to get inside us and usurp our identity. Culture tells us that we are Americans first (or Indians or Europeans or Australians or South Africans…). Culture wants us to think we are primarily identified by our race or sexuality or gender or political party. (Galatians 3.28) But no cultural identity is our primary identity.

We are children of Abraham’s promise and carriers of his blessing to the world. That is our gospel identity. Anything else must submit to that or be swept away before it. We must adapt or avoid cultural mandates that conflict with our God-given identity.

Just as Israel claimed Joseph’s children as his, God lays his claim on us. We are not at home in this world or in our “home” culture. Let us not expect comfort but struggle, knowing that God will come to our aid and take us home.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Cry of the Church
O God, come to my assistance! O Lord, make haste to help me!

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Genesis 50 (Listen – 4:07) 
Luke 3 (Listen – 5:24)

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In The Face of Wonder :: A Guided Prayer

Luke 1.46-47
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

Reflection: In The Face of Wonder :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

Before she delivered Jesus as a child, Mary delivered the gospel. 

Mary’s powerful confession, prayer, and prophecy, shows her familiarity with the scriptures and an intimate connection with God like the prophets of old. God’s Spirit breaks through into the world through the worship that is initiated by Elizabeth and Mary’s joyful reunion.

Pray this prayer repeatedly over the weekend, seeking God’s face and asking Him to break through into your world, asking him to speak the gospel through your worship and its resulting action.

Praying in Wonder, with Mary

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.

Oh, God, when your wondrous work sweeps in to our world, we have no better way to respond than worship. 

From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.

Your glory, Lord, overcoming and transforming our weaknesses is cause for our souls to sing. 

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.

Your power, Holy Spirit, working on behalf of the outcasts and the downtrodden is the beat that our boots must march to. 

He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

Your call, Jesus, beckoning us to abandon our broken world for your righteousness, is a cry for freedom. 

The freedom the world seeks is freedom to dominate, dictate, and destroy. This freedom is a lie that seeks power and blessing for ourselves.

May we seek instead the freedom to serve, to create, and to restore. We can do this only in your power and through your Holy Spirit.

Jesus come to us. Jesus come through us to the world.

Amen.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Our God will come and will not keep silence; before him there is a consuming flame, and round about him a raging storm. — Psalm 50.3

Today’s Readings
Genesis 48 (Listen – 3:43) 
Luke 1.1-39-80 (Listen – 9:26)

Today’s Readings
Genesis 49 (Listen – 4:54) , Luke 2 (Listen – 6:11)
Genesis 50 (Listen – 4:07) , Luke 3 (Listen – 5:24)

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