First Lesson: Genesis 45: 1-15
Responsive Reading: Psalm 133
Second Lesson: Romans 11: 1-2, 29-32
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 15: (10-20) 21-28
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Harland was born just outside Henryville, Indiana in 1890. Harland lost his father at the age of 5. Because of this loss, Harland had to learn the art of cooking from a young age while his mother worked. When Harland was 12, his mother remarried, but his stepfather and Harland had one run in after another. Harland would drop out of 7th Grade and go work on a farm. Harland at 15 lied about his age to enlist in the US Army. When Harland returned he worked all sorts of various jobs: insurance salesman, steamboat operator, manufacturing, railroad worker, tire salesman, he even practiced law for a bit. Harland’s brother in law encouraged his wife to dump Harland for his inability to hold down a job. 1930, Harland gets put in charge of a service station at the start of the great depression. Harland’s service station was in a remote area, so when travelers looked for grub, Harland started cooking. Harland got pretty good at the cooking business, especially famous for his chicken. He had perfected a new method of pressure cooking the chicken. In 1955, disaster struck Harland the new freeway Interstate 75 came through Central Kentucky. Harland’s business on the previous well-traveled Route 25 was destroyed. Harland was soon 65 years old, broke and living in his car. Harland spent the next two years living in his car, traveling around hoping to sell his chicken recipe to a willing buyer. Two years brought nothing but hardship. Finally, someone bought Harland’s recipe, then another then another. Seven years after selling his “secret” chicken recipe, Harland Sanders who had been made a Kentucky Colonel along the way sold his Kentucky Fried Chicken for $2 Million Dollars. Here’s the thing about Colonel Sanders his future seemed as bleak at times as a man’s could be. Harland probably struggled to believe that things would work for him in the end until God’s plan for his life began to unfold fully.
Now I want to tell you the story of another guy who like Colonel Sanders’ his life had been one bad break after another. Joseph’s brothers get jealous of his multi-color coat and throw him into slavery. Joseph gets dragged away from home into Egypt. Potiphar’s wife falsely accuses Joseph of inappropriate behavior, leading him to prison. While in prison, Joseph reveals himself to be the greatest interpreter of dreams in all the land of Egypt. Joseph soon rises to Pharaoh’s second in command, because of his unique gift. All the while, Joseph’s former brothers, and father are suffering a famine. Joseph’s brothers then travel to Egypt, where an unrecognized Joseph is suspicious of their motives. Joseph demands to see younger brother Benjamin. Jacob, his father, didn’t want to send Benjamin out of fear of losing him like Joseph. Joseph insists that he won’t help his brothers until he sees brother Benjamin. Joseph uses Benjamin’s presence to try to trick his brothers, to see if they’ve changed their previous selfish ways. Joseph plants a silver cup on Benjamin, to see if the other brothers would defend him or watch him die. Joseph’s brother Judah leaps to Benjamin’s defense. Joseph, his brothers, and his family then reunite. How does Joseph eventually sum up all these crazy happenings to his brothers “What you meant for evil- God meant for Good.” Joseph like Colonel Sanders probably had his nights of wondering from where his future might come. Joseph eventually saw that God’s plan would bring about salvation to not only the people of Egypt but the people of Israel also.
The following story leads us into our lesson today from Romans 11. Romans 11 tells the tale of the Apostle Paul’s own people struggling with God’s plan of salvation. They were struggling with their own times of rejection by both men and seemingly by God. They were struggling with how much Paul claimed The Cross changed things. What Romans 11 assures is How God does not reject his people, even when they stumble.” No matter how dark the hour, God’s mercy shall triumph in the end.
What Romans 11 says is there will be hours when God’s mercy will not be easily seen. We might struggle with the directions of God’s plans. Rest assured, our God promises to remain faithful to you even as you live through your times of trial, no different than Colonel Sanders or Joseph (Son of Jacob).
October 10, 2004, Matthew, Jacob, and Justin Backstrom called their parents Nathan and Connie to inform them they were just leaving Walmart and would soon be home. Later that evening, sheriff’s deputies arrived at Nathan and Connie Backstrom’s home. The boys had been in an accident hit by a drunk driver. Matthew (20) and Justin (16) die instantly.
While at the hospital as the surviving Jacob was in surgery, Connie Backstrom prayed:” Lord, I want to make a difference. I will not go where You do not open the door. This is your work, and I do not have the energy to open even one door.”Jacob Backstrom (17) would die the next day.
When such an accident happens, reporters flocked to the Backstrom home. They were expecting the Backstrom’s to let the other driver have it for his wickedness. He was speeding, talking on his cell-phone, and previously drinking. Instead, the Backstrom’s spoke of the power of their faith in Jesus. They spoke of forgiving the driver and praying for his need for recovery. The Backstrom’s would later visit the driver who killed their children in prison. This loss would cause the Backstrom’s to begin a ministry preaching about their faith in coping with tragedy. Nathan and Connie Backstrom’s hope is that no other family ever has to endure what they’ve endured, yet what keeps them going is the belief like in the story of Joseph that God can bring meaning from the darkest of places.
You might hear The Backstrom’s story and see nothing but the cruelest of condemnation. Mercy in times like this truly seems absent. Mercy similarly seemed absent at times for Colonel Sanders and Joseph in Egypt during their nights of uncertainly.
Nathan and Connie Backstrom didn’t dare try to explain God’s ways. What they trust is that in life’s various twists and turns that God shall ultimately be merciful in the end. So even if we don’t know, how God might work everything out on this day, we believe that good shall eventually come.
John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist church. John Wesley was estimated to have preached over 40,000 sermons within his lifetime. John Wesley as a preacher was not always well received. Wesley was frequently attacked by mobs. John Wesley was no intimidating presence standing a mere 5’3 and weighing under 130 lbs. So one time in his ministry: Wesley was facing a particularly rough stretch. How God’s mercy would reveal itself for Wesley was unclear.
Sunday, A.M., May 5
“Preached in St. Anne’s. Was asked not to come back anymore.”
Sunday, P.M., May 5
Preached in St. John’s. Deacons said “Get out and stay out.”
Sunday, A.M., May 12
“Preached in St. Jude’s. Can’t go back there, either.”
Sunday, A.M., May 19
“Preached. Deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.”
Sunday, P.M., May 19
“Preached on street. Kicked off street.”
Sunday, A.M., May 26
“Preached in meadow. Chased out of meadow as bull was turned loose during service.”
Sunday, A.M., June 2
“Preached out at the edge of town. Kicked off the highway.”
Sunday, P.M., June 2
“Afternoon preached in a pasture. Ten thousand people came out to hear me (him).”
John Wesley would die in 1791. Nearly 80,000 in England plus another 40,000 in America claimed membership in his Methodist church. Today, there are nearly 80,000,000 Christians part of the Methodist movement.
The point of our lesson for this morning is this. There will be times when Our God seems to be silent. There will be times when we feel rejected and despised by God. Rest assured, the Potter above is continually molding the clay. The clay is being molded into something beyond what we can imagine on this day. Our great promise guiding us forth from this day is our God ‘s mercy is being poured out upon all his people (Jew and Gentile alike). Rest assured, even if you’re an out of work chicken fryer, the least favorite son, grieving parents, or a struggling preacher or even whole nations struggling with the meaning of your salvation. Rest assured there is no problem today too big that your God can not fix. Even if the recipe remains a secret! Amen
 “Colonel Sanders.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 4.Aug.2017. Web. Aug.8.2017.
 Colonel Sanders.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation.
 Ashley. “The Failure and Eventual Success of Colonel Sanders.” Money Talks Coaching. 7.Nov.2012. Web. Aug.8.2017.
 Ashley. “The Failure and Eventual Success of Colonel Sanders.”
 Ashley. “The Failure and Eventual Success of Colonel Sanders
 Tanner, Beth. “Commentary on Genesis 45:1-15.” Working Preacher. 20.Aug.2017. Web. Aug.8.2017.
 Genesis 50:20.
 Romans 11:1-2a,29-32.
 Romans 11:1.
 Skinner, Matthew. “Commentary on Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32.” Working Preacher. 14.Aug.2011. Web. Aug.8.2017
 Killleen, Jo Anne. “Loss of three sons spurs couple to share their message.” La Crosse Tribune. 20.Mar.2009. Web. Aug.8.2017.
 Killleen, Jo Anne. “Loss of three sons spurs couple to share their message.”
 Stier, Rev.Leon “Persistence (c) . Email Mediations. 11.Aug.2015. Web. Aug.8.2009.
 Killleen, Jo Anne. “Loss of three sons spurs couple to share their message.”
 “John Wesley: Did You Know?” Christian History. Issue 2. 1983 found on Christianity Today website on August 8th, 2017.
 Bible.org “John Wesley’s Diary”. 2.Feb.2009. Web. Aug.8.2017.
 Bible.org “John Wesley’s Diary.”
 “John Wesley: Did You Know?” Christian History
 “United Methodist Church.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation.30.June.2017. Web. Aug.8.2017.
 Berge, Paul. “Commentary on Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32.” Working Preacher. 17.Aug.2008. Web. Aug.8.2017.
 The following line is taken from an Alyce McKenzie article title from Patheos.com published on August 11th, 2014.