On Tuesday, September 1st, Rev. Maya started an exciting new chapter in her ministry as she continues her work in a new position. All of us at QHL will miss her very much and wish her and her family God's blessing. We are both sad and proud to share with you her last message to us.
Genesis 37.1-4, 12-28.
What Becomes of Our Dreams
By: Rev. Maya Douglas
Three years ago, standing in the main church office at Bloor Street United, was when I first heard from Robin. At that time, she had called to tell me about Annette Beishuizen. She worried that during my upcoming vacation Annette may not make it, and she wondered perhaps… I mean she knew I would be on vacation… so she sheepishly wondered if maybe… I could visit? I agreed that I’d look in on Annette… and thus began our ministry of care, a ministry of informing each other and sometimes disrupting each other’s lives. There has been grief… encouragement… well-meaning gossip… and questions, lots and lots of questions. What a gift it has been to be here; Robin I really wanted to stay with until we retired. Perhaps they’ll remember to invite me to your party when the time comes. We’ll see. Has God been with us, though we couldn’t see him? Has God been here? I think so.
The irony of beginnings heralding endings and endings heralding new beginnings is throughout the Bible. Our Genesis reading is like that, it says, “Look see, this is how we became a covenanted people… This is how we ended up in Egypt… This is what becomes of our dreams.” Joseph is a dreamer, we know this; he is a precocious child spoiled by the very same precocious man-child, Jacob, who sets him up for his very same downfall – brotherly scorn! Imagine… Joseph’s brothers plotting his death as he approached them. Certainly, they travelled far enough away from this “dreamer”, so far away that he struggled to find them. But find them, he did, and curiously enough we do not hear Joseph’s voice once they meet. No protest. No cry for help. Joseph is effectively silenced as his brothers strip him and decide on how best to rid themselves of him. Joseph is silenced.
Oftentimes, I’ve reflected on the silenced ones in society, haven’t I QHL? Oftentimes, the marginalized – the missing and murdered Indigenous women, the war veterans, the homeless transgender youth - are the silenced ones with whom we dialogue each Sunday, because “the least of these” (cf. Matt 25.40) is who Jesus calls us to think of, to engage. Why do we only hear about Lebanon’s political situation after a part of Beirut literally blows up? Weeks ago, no one cared… and sadly weeks from now, no one will care again. There is so much going on in the world… from sex trafficking here in Canada to organ harvesting in Northern Africa. How can we even keep up? We don’t. We pray. We answer the call and honour the disruptions to our lives when these issues come up. And we pray. For when we pray, we give voice to the silenced. To the ones who those of us who find themselves in a pit, regardless of who’s fault it may be. We pray. For sometimes, no, most times God’s word can be heard in the words of a singular voice. Like the voice of Reuben saying, “Let us not take his life… Shed no blood… lay no hand on him.”
What becomes of our dreams? God redeems us despite our actions and inactions. Curious enough, the ancient belief that dreams came from the Divine, means that not only were Joseph’s brothers angry with Joseph, they were angry with God. Their anger at the dreams was inadvertently or perhaps consciously directed towards God as well. Why him and not them? Their mockery of “Here comes the dreamer” means that they also placed God in that pit. And yet, God redeems them despite their actions and inactions. God too… seems silent in this story, and yet through the adversity - at the hands of the oppressors that Judah chooses for Joseph… the Ishmaelites – the kin of the boy Ishmael who once cried under a bush, thirsting in the wilderness with Hagar? At the hands of the oppressors, “they drew him up, lifting him out of the pit, and took Joseph to (the place where they will be saved, enslaved, yet ultimately become a covenanted people).” (cf. Gen 37.28) God’s pattern of resurrecting us is ironic. What becomes of our dreams? Redemption!
God redeems us despite our actions and inactions. When we find ourselves in our own pits… of worry… grief … doubt… anger with God… with each other, God redeems us. When others seem to feast on the abundance of life, while we struggle to find one thing to be thrilled about, God still redeems us. Have faith. Make the calls and reach out to each other, when the fear of not having a full-time minister comes to mind. Make. The. Call. Be the singular voice that God uses when all seems lost. Be like Robin and disrupt each other’s lives. Lend your voice in helpful and effective ways. Be kind. Be patient. For it never fails…
I went to see Annette during my vacation. We had great conversations, which became good conversations, to then evolve to quiet and disjointed ponderings on the Spirits visiting her room. By the time my vacation was done and I was to start working here, Annette had become silent and shortly passed away. If I had not allowed any disruptions, I would not have truly met Annette. I would not have danced with babies at Rainbow Fish. I would not have fallen in love with you. Oh, how I’d wish that all of you would have disrupted me more. Speak more about God and less about money… More about faith and less about hymn selection. How I’d wished to hear more about why this community should be affirming, or about why I think Black Lives Matter. More inquiries about how I am holding up during the racial unrest during the pandemic would have been a welcome disruption. Perhaps silence is not truly silence but a noise unto itself, full of uncertainty, perhaps pain? I don’t know… I do know that, from the pit, in the upper room, on the cross, Jesus-God offers us peace.
May we find peace in the memories we share. May we venture forward with God’s Spirit of disruption. And as we go our separate ways, may we find comfort in knowing that God redeems us despite our actions and inactions. I end our time quoting the scripture reading given to Annette by Dee, which she shared with me at our first visit… Jeremiah 29.11 “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Amen.
Peace be with you...
Let it be so...