[Joseph said] 'when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness’ Genesis 40:14
Brothers and sisters, this week the news has been full of talk of the Prime Minister. Remembering his past, and speculating about his future. Then, with his future in retirement settled, we move on to talk about who would be the next Prime Minister. Now, if you turn on the news, there will be a whole list of potential candidates and news readers remembering their past, and speculating about their futures. We do a lot of remembering, not just about Boris, but in all sorts of ways because—as I’ve said before—remembering tells us who we are. Christians too work out who we are by remembering our story if we will faithfully remember it. A key part part of our remembering is remembering who our God is and so—over the past few weeks—we have been remembering. Today we remember that He is the God who remembers. In fact we have seen this to be true all the way through our studies of Genesis. God remembered Abraham, and brought him to the promised land, and gave him the son of promise, gave him Isaac. We have seen this in Joseph’s life. God remembered His promise to Abraham, and He protected the new son of promise, which is now Joseph. God remembered him in the pit where his brothers had left him. God remembered Joseph in Egypt, where he was with him and blessed him, and ensured that he prospered. God remembered Joseph when he was falsely accused, ensuring he ended up in the best prison, and blessing the work of his hands so that—soon enough—Joseph basically ran the prison himself. God has not forgotten Joseph, and it turns out, Joseph has not forgotten God. And when God’s people, follow Joseph’s example and remember who they are, it is then that they act in a way consistent with their calling. Joseph remembers and so Joseph acts like one of God’s people.
What does this look like? How might we summarise the way one of God’s people—the way a Christian—should live? St Paul gives us a basic outline: Faith, Hope, and Love. Faith in the God who remembers. Hope in the future God has promised. And love for those God has put in our path. Faith, Hope, and Love. These are the keys we will use to unlock the true story we find in Genesis chapter 40. Faith. First, Joseph had faith. As I always say when I go on a baptism visit, faith is just another word for trust. Joseph trusted God. Through all his ups and downs, through dreams and promotions as well as through death threats and imprisonments, Joseph trusted, he had faith, in God. Why? Because Joseph remembered how God has always acted. He looked backwards. He remembered the true stories his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather told him about how God had worked in their life. And because he remembered he had faith. Parents and grandparents, be sure to tell your children and grandchildren the stories of God. Read to them, the Scriptures but also tell them the stories of the ways in which God has been faithful to you. Joseph had faith, because Joseph remembered God. Second, hope. Despite Joseph’s predicament, despite all that had happened to him Joseph had hope. How? How could Joseph have hope when he had gone from the favoured son, to become a slave, and now—even worse—a prisoner? Well because he remembered God, and he remembered the dream God had given him. Joseph looks back to the times God has spoken to him, and been with him in the past, and so has hope in God’s promises for the future. It is so easy, when things are going badly, when suffering and difficulties come, to forget the ways in which God has been with you in earlier times of your life. We have to notice them—of course—at the time, and when we do say ‘thank you,’ that then gives us a treasure-box of good memories, so that when difficult times come, we can draw out these memories and have hope for the future. Brothers and sisters, make it a habit to thank God for the good times, and share those with others, and remember them regularly so that your treasure box of memories will always be full for the future. Joseph had hope, because Joseph remembered God. Third, and finally, love. Joseph loved those around him. Take a look at verse 6: ‘When Joseph came to [the prisoners] the next morning, he saw that they were dejected.’ How easy it would have been to pass by on the other side. To say to himself,‘I’m the favoured son, who had a good job, but look where that has led me, forget these guys,’ but he doesn’t (v7). Joseph, lovingly, listens to the prisoners, points them to God, and then, in love, tries to help them. Why? Why does Joseph love them? Because he remembers that God loves him, and has always, always been there for him. Joseph loved and served those around him even though they didn’t deserve it, because he remembered the God who loved him, even though he didn’t deserve it either. Christians, we should know and remember this better than Jospeh, for we have seen the cross, the place where God showed His love and died so that we might live and love those around us. But too often we are too busy, we forget that God loves us, we do not remember that He died for us, and so we fail to love others, as God loves us. Joseph loved, because Joseph remembered God.
We too are called to remember and so have faith, hope, and love. We’re called to remember—by God Himself—when He tells us in the Scriptures to take bread and wine, and to ‘Do this in remembrance of me’. Today—as every Sunday—we obey Jesus’ command to remember. We take bread and wine, and we remember who our God is, and so we remember who we are. A people who belong to the ‘God-who-remembers’. A people of faith, hope, and love. so, in faith, in hope, let us—like Joseph—go out and love all those we meet. Listening to their concerns, helping them with their needs where we can, and telling them about the ‘God-who-remembers’. So that we can do that, let us first remember the God who died for us on the cross, by obeying His call and breaking bread, in remembrance of Him. Amen. (from Fr Mike).