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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

DON'T TRUST PHARAOH

Blogging Genesis 41 & 47

Pharaoh is sneaky.

You think you’re getting what Pharaoh gives, but all the while he’s getting you for all you got.  He’s sneaky. 

In Genesis 41 Joseph gave Pharaoh a plan to save his people from starvation during the 7 prophesied years of famine.  The ancient Egyptian government imposed an emergency 20%  federal income tax and ordered municipalities to increase local taxes to build up their capital reserves.

“Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years.  And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.  Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine” (Genesis 41: 34-36).

This was a whole new deal for Egypt.  And it worked. 

The seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. The famine was in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread (Genesis 41:54).

But, they didn’t just give away the government’s grain.  That would’ve been socialism.  No, “Joseph opened all the storehouses and SOLD to the Egyptians”   (Genesis 41:56).

They made their own starving citizens BUY BACK grain the citizens had grown.  And they didn’t just sell to their own people.  The Egyptian government’s new taxation scheme had been so effective that Egypt had enough grain in reserve to sell to merchants and emissaries from starving nations all over the region. 

So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all lands (Genesis 41:57).

Pharaoh (and Joseph) made exponential profits “saving” people in the economic downturn.  But, the  people received the real, tangible benefit of not starving to death so that’s fair, right?

Check your pockets.  Pharaoh is sneaky.

And patient.

Buying back your own grain at famine prices is expensive.  After some time, Pharaoh had “all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought” (Genesis 47: 14).

Pharaoh took control of all liquid capital in the nation.  He had the financial markets.

Pharaoh continued feeding his people, but not for free.  That would be socialism. 

“Then Joseph said, ‘Give your livestock, and I will give you bread for your livestock, if the money is gone.’ “   Within a year, Egyptian citizen had all signed over the ancient equivalent of their vehicles and heavy equipment (Genesis 47:15-17).

Pharaoh took control of the means of production.

After another year of renting back your own equipment with money you don’t have to buy back your own grain, the good citizens of Egypt began selling the only two things they had left:  their land and their bodies.    They asked Joseph to, “Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants of Pharaoh; give us seed, that we may live and not die, that the land may not be desolate”  Then Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. . . So the land became Pharaoh’s. (Genesis 47: 19, 20).

Pharaoh became master of the housing sector, and the Egyptians became sharecroppers on their own land.

But wait.  There’s more.  To ensure the new status quo took hold and stayed in place, Pharaoh made 3 more moves:
(1)  He urbanized the population breaking each family’s connection to  their ancestral land.  
“And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end” (Genesis 47: 21). 

(2) The government made the emergency tax permanent because blah-blah-blah the economy. 
And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have one-fifth . . . (Genesis 47:26).

(3)  Pharaoh used religious tax-exemptions and personal connections (his prime minster was married to the high priest’s daughter)  to make sure that the nation’s religious leaders would support his policies and preach pro-Pharaoh patriotism.

Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have one-fifth except for the land of the priests onlywhich did not become Pharaoh’s (Genesis 47:26).

Amazing what a sneaky man can do when he sits on the throne (or in the Oval Office).
Now I know what some of you are thinking:  “Pharaoh represents liberal Democrats enslaving our nation through dependence.”

And I know what the rest of you are thinking:  “No. Pharaoh is the conservative Republicans  enslaving our nation through corporate greed.”

Read this blog again. 

Pharaoh owns a donkey and an elephant.  

He’s that sneaky.
--Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama. He writes a blog called A Word to the Wise at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, Al 35064

Monday, February 26, 2018

MO’ PRESENCE, MO’ PROMISE

This week’s message in the Exodus preaching series comes from the first half of Exodus 33 and offers a solution to an old school complaint.

The title is:  MO’ PRESENCE, MO’ PROMISE.


Listen well and leave a comment.


If you can’t get the audio on your device, visit the main podcast page at http://revandersongraves.podomatic.com/

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, AL 35064

Saturday, February 24, 2018

EULOGY FOR ANITA M. MCGREW: Try to Keep Up

The eulogy for Mrs. Anita M. McGrew, beloved matriarch and member of Miles Chapel CME Church.


The title is:  TRY TO KEEP UP.


If you can’t get the audio on your device, visit the main podcast page at http://revandersongraves.podomatic.com/

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, AL 35064

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

BEING JOSEPH


Blogging Genesis 39:20–41:46

Genesis 39: 20 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison.


Joseph was a foreign slave declared guilty of the attempted rape of Potiphar’s wife; and Potiphar didn’t immediately execute and/or castrate him?  Instead he used his position as captain of the guard to have incarcerated in the KING’s prison.    The rest of chapter 39 doesn’t depict the prison as particularly cruel.  The inmates seemed to have a great deal of freedom, like it was a minimum-security, country-club prison.  Which implies that  Potiphar retained some sympathy for his house-slave and possibly some doubt about his wife’s testimony.   Goes to show that “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).  Goes to show that when God’s on your side they can’t break you even when they want to.


Even while locked up, “the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39: 21).  Joseph was transferred from general population to work detail as one of the warden’s  household slaves.  In that capacity, Joseph ran the prison, but something  inside him was changing.

When Israel-Jacob promoted Joseph above his brothers the teenage manager exalted himself, bragging about his dreams of the family bowing down before him.  When he got the promotion in Potiphar’s house, Joseph attributed his rise to master’s good judgment and trusted in his good evaluations and company loyalty to protect him from sexual harassment, false accusations, and racial profiling. But by the time he began running the king’s prison, Joseph didn’t want another promotion.  He didn’t want the praise of people who didn’t care about him but only what profits he could generate.   

By the turning point in Genesis 40,  Joseph was WOKE to the injustice of the system in which he operated.   “I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon” (Genesis 40:15). 

In other words, Joseph said, “Yeah, I’m in the big house, but they still see me as a slave and a prisoner,” so “Remember me,”  he begged the cupbearer (Genesis 40:23). 


Meanwhile, he worked.  He worked for the man who kept him in dual bondage, and he endured being un-remembered by those to whom he had ministered in their time of distress.  Joseph no longer wanted to be promoted.  Joseph wanted to be FREE.


Years passed and Joseph was called to demonstrate his prophetic skills for the most powerful man in Egypt.  But Joseph had changed.  He wasn’t about self-promotion anymore.  To the contrary, he told the king of Egypt,  “It is not in me.”  He directed all the praise to “God,” whom Joseph affirmed, “will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”
The son of Israel’s old arrogance was displaced by irreverence for “great” masters like the king of the Nile.   Twice, Joseph said, “God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do,” which is kinda like saying, “Duuh.  Isn’t it obvious?  I mean,” Joseph continued, “the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.” (Genesis 41: 25, 28, 32)

Get ready.  A twist is coming.

Joseph then outlined an ingenious plan to prepare Egypt for the coming economic downturn, and again an Egyptian promoted him; but this promotion elevated Joseph above his former masters and all masters in Egypt.  Pharaoh gave Joseph an Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife, making him a full Egyptian citizen (Genesis 41:39-45).  That’s not the twist.

Here’s the twist: Joseph got free, but he didn’t even try to go home. 

He could have asked Pharaoh for a chariot to take him back to Canaan to rejoin his family and prepare them for the famine.  He could have sent for his father and baby brother to come stay with him in Egypt.   Joseph could have reconnected with his tribe any number of ways, but he didn’t. 

He was finally free but his old family was as dead to him and he had been made to them.
 Image result for you think you're free
Promotion doesn’t mean you’re free.  Sometimes, neither does freedom.   

Yes, ultimately God brought them all back together.  But their re-unification, still years away at this point, would not undo decades of estrangement.  Joseph was going to be prime minister of the most powerful empire on the planet and he was still so wounded by his brothers’ betrayal that he turned his back on everything in his Hebrew culture --- except God.

WE are Joseph.

Black in America.  Residents by enslavement.  Citizens by struggle.  They have exploited our skills.  They have claimed our bodies for their entertainment.  They have jailed us unjustly. 

WE are Joseph.

We have struggled for promotion and for freedom in times and contexts where one had to be sacrificed for the other.    

WE are Joseph.

Our ancestral names and nations are dead to us.  Still, we dream through music and movies of re-unification with our motherland.  But the years of estrangement have stretched so long, and there are problems in this land that require our attention.  Here where we are citizens, named and known, are crises we can solve. 

WE are Joseph.

So, we do what we do.  We do our jobs, and we throw shade, and we speak truth to power and despite ourselves we get promoted because we are that gifted. 

WE are Joseph.

We gave up everything of who we were, but we kept our faith.  Tattered and misattributed as Black Christianity is, we keep the faith of our unconquered fathers because WE are Joseph.

YOU are Joseph.

Remember yourself.

Remember how God kept you. 

Remember that before you started helping Pharaoh realize his dream, God gave you dreams of your own.

Remember that the God you have not forgotten has not forgotten you. 

YOU are Joseph. 

Go be great.
 Image result for remember who you are
--Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama. He writes a blog called A Word to the Wise at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, Al 35064


Monday, February 19, 2018

BUILD YOUR OWN

Movies say that God spent 40 days and 40 nights explaining the 10 Commandments to Moses.  That’s not what the Bible says.  Scriptures says that God spent 40 days explaining a set of blueprints.  God called Moses up on the mountain to deliver a design that transformed the future of a band of homeless ex-slaves in the wilderness.  

Take a look at the plans from the mountaintop and listen to the lesson they teach for this moment in our community, this moment in your life.

The message is:  BUILD YOUR OWN.


Listen well and please leave a comment.


If you can’t get the audio on your device, visit the main podcast page at http://revandersongraves.podomatic.com/

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, AL 35064