The Chair and the Desk, 1/29/16

From the chair:

22 So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s house. Joseph lived 110 years. 23 And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation. The children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph’s own. 24 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

-Genesis 50:22-26

Today, our Bible reading plan took us through the end of Genesis, which provided a great opportunity to go back and review my exegesis paper from Dr. Kaminski’s class at Gordon Conwell. I stared at the last paragraph thinking, “I know there’s great stuff here…I just forgot what it is.” Going back to this paper made me appreciate the education I received there and, more importantly, helped me see how profoundly God finishes this first book.

The final paragraph of Genesis picks up three vital themes from Genesis: First, problem persists. The Joseph story started in Egypt, and it ends still in Egypt. Ephraim and Manasseh (and they’re controversial standing in the family) call up the contentious family dynamics of God’s chosen people. Yet, second, grace enters. As Joseph reiterates, God swore to deliver them, and they are still holding onto that promise. He has already multiplied Israel’s family and carved out a place of honor for Joseph. Third, faith abides. Joseph still believes that they will carry his bones up to the Promised Land. Just as God “visited” Sarah–fulfilling hope beyond hope–so Joseph trusts that God will visit his people.

Problem, grace, and faith. It’s a fitting first chapter for humanity, because these are also the central realities of our own day and age. God has shined grace into the human problem, and we are called to faith in the promise that his grace will ultimately defeat problem through Jesus Christ.

From the desk:

“Creativity is the product of experience.” 

-Jana Childers, Performing the Word, p.101

I think this is one of the best insights that Childers pulls from theatre into preaching: That creativity is not ex nihilo. Creativity comes from paying attention to our experiences, exploring them deeply, and pulling them into the creative process.

Paying attention to experience allows John Donne to write:

One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death; thou shalt die.

He knows what it’s like to see death, contemplate death, fear death, face death. Out of that experience, he can create something that’s taps into what we think and feel about death. This attention, this creativity, hold great promise for the preacher.

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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