Week 1: listen to your dream
What is my dream? What kind of person do I want to be? What is the Lord calling me to do?
Story—Joseph is especially loved by his father. He dreams of the sun moon and stars (his whole family) bowing down to him. His jealous brothers throw him in a pit.
Meaning—Joseph is like that highest, most loving and earnest part of us that has a vision of what life could be like if we let the Lord reign in our lives. We have a vision that our whole life – our words and actions - will honestly reflect what we know is right and true and good. This is a dream of living a life where our inner world matches our outer world. A life where goodness reigns, and we’re living in integrity. But at this stage, it’s still only a wish, a hope, a dream.
Task—Identify the things you care about most. What is your dream? What would it look like if you were living in integrity with what you care about most? Start visualizing what this would look like. Get excited about it. Also, recognize the internal “brothers” that might try to throw this dream in a pit.
Week 2: drop the distractions
What is distracting me from the dream? What do I need to let go of? What do I need to give up? Is this on the path?
Story—Joseph has been taken to Egypt, and is doing well in Pharoah’s house, working as a slave for Potiphar, but Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph. When he resists her, he is falsely accused of raping her, and is thrown in prison. While in prison, he interprets the dreams of the butler and baker. He predicts that the butler will go free, but the baker will die.
Meaning—Joseph resisting Potiphar’s wife is like the times that we resist the things that seduce us from focusing on what’s really important. Resisting is hard, and can even make us feel like we’re being restrained- like we’re in prison. But while in this place, we recognize our thoughts (butler) and our desires (baker). The knowledge gained from our experiences can live on, but the desires that have gotten carried away (like the bread in the birds’ mouths) needs to die. We’re resisting the seduction, and letting the “baker” in us “die.”
Task—When something comes up where you feel pulled to do something that’s not in line with the dream you identified – the kind of life you want to live, think of Joseph saying to Potiphar’s wife, “How could I do this thing and sin against God?” Or recognize an internal negative emotion that is weighing you down and think, “This baker needs to die.” Do your best to resist these temptations, and drop the distractions.
Week 3: create positive experiences
What step can I take right now to make the dream real? What can I do now? What good things do I notice in my life that I can store up?
Story—Joseph is remembered by the butler and pulled from prison. He interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, explaining that there will be seven years of plenty, and then seven years of famine. He makes a plan of action and encourages Pharoah to store up the grain. This plan proves to be a great one –because of all the grain that’s been stored up, the people of Egypt have plenty of food when famine strikes.
Meaning—We all experience good times and hard times. It’s important to store up the good experiences so that when the lean years hit, there will be something to fall back on.
Task—Plan what you will do to make that dream a reality in your life and take action everyday. Enjoy these small actions, knowing that you’re storing up good memories for a time when it’s not so easy.
Week 4: ask for help
Where can I turn for help?
Story—Joseph’s brothers are now starving, so they come to Egypt to get grain. They fall on their knees before Joseph and ask him for grain.
Meaning—The brothers coming to Egypt and humbling themselves before Jacob is like the time in our lives when we realize that we really do need God. That we can’t do it alone. That we need to ask for help, and use the support of others. Coming to Egypt also represents learning.
Task—When you hit those “lean years” remember that you don’t have to do this alone. Ask God for help. Also ask others for help. Learn what you can – read information that will help orient you back to your dream, and help you stay in integrity.
Week 5: take responsibility
What is my responsibility? How can I be honest with myself and others?
Story—The brothers are out of grain again, and must convince their father to let them bring Benjamin to Egypt, as Joseph requested. It’s extremely hard for Jacob- he’s afraid of losing his beloved son. Judah swears to his father that he’ll bring Benjamin home safely. With Benjamin along with them, the brothers get an unexpected warm welcome from Joseph. But when they are leaving, and the silver cup is found in Benjamin’s bag, Judah and the brothers returns to Joseph to give themselves up as slaves to Joseph.
Meaning—Benjamin represents the vulnerable, honest truth that we protect. Without Benjamin, the brothers did not really connect with Joseph – he was still a stranger. With Benjamin, there was much greater connection and love. When we approach others with honesty and vulnerability, we are able to find a much greater connection with them.
Task—Be honest with others, and with yourself. If you’re in a tense situation, instead of blaming others, ask yourself, “What is my responsibility here? This willingness to take responsibility puts you in a vulnerable position – you may even feel like you’ll be taken as a slave if you admit it – but you do it nonetheless. You own up.
Week 6: have compassion
How can I show compassion? How can I forgive?
Story—Joseph hears Judah’s plea, and is moved with compassion. He tells them that he is really their younger brother, and that he is not angry with him for what they did to him. He says that God brought good out of it. He tells his brothers to come close, and see who he really is.
Meaning—The brothers finally seeing Joseph and knowing who he is represents the time when we feel that through becoming humble, and being honest, we can see the Lord. We can feel that the things we dream really are possible. We are able to reconnect with that goodness and tenderness within we’ve carried for so long that we thought was lost.
Task—Be forgiving of yourself and of others. You will not always meet your own expectations of how you think you should be. It’s okay. Be gentle and forgiving with yourself. Extend this same forgiveness to others, knowing that they won’t always match your “dream” of who they should be either. Remember that we are all on a journey, and it’s better together.
Week 7: celebrate the blessings
What am I thankful for?
Story—Jacob is told that not only is Joseph still alive, but that he Joseph is a ruler of Egypt. Now all his family can live together with plenty to eat. This is huge blessing to him. Not only this, but he gets to meet his grandsons – the sons of Joseph, who he gets the privilege of blessing. As he does this blessing, he crosses his arms, giving the greater blessing to the second son.
Meaning—Jacob and Joseph and all the brothers finally living together in peace represents the time when all our thoughts and actions in the natural world are the things we care about most are in integrity with our deepest love – what we know is good and true. The second son receiving the blessing represent the fact that love is really the most important thing in our lives, even though we at first might think that the most important thing is knowing the truth.
Task—Look at what we have learned and how we have grown in the past six weeks. What new thoughts and new feelings have come to you during this time? What blessings are you grateful for? Celebrate with one another the blessings the Lord has given us in our community and on our spiritual journey.