You shall carry my bones

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die; but God will surely come to you, and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” So Joseph made the Israelites swear, saying, “When God comes to you, you shall carry up my bones from here.” And Joseph died, being one hundred ten years old; he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.
— Genesis 50:24-26

It could be morbid or maybe this is what happens when you live your life all tangled up in the Scriptures. The plate and the cup upon our makeshift altar have Genesis significance -- Moses carrying Joseph’s bones out of Egypt significance.

When we sold most of what we held as a congregation and the first bins were packed for pop-up church, there were several paten and chalices from which to choose. I chose the set that was arguably “too nice” for life together on the road. The silver vessels and their inscriptions felt like the thing we could carry.

We don’t need to take much for the journey (Mark 6:8-9). There is, however, biblical precedence for taking something that invokes the start of the era that is ending, so as to go with God into a new storyline.

If you’re leaving Egypt, the carry-able thing marking closure and continuity could be the bones of the first one to settle in Egypt. If you’re leaving the corner of Boulevard and Stuart, it might be two pieces of Tableware.

A fresh wave of delight washes over me when I imagine Joseph hatching the plan. If God was coming for the people and taking them to a place far away, well, he was going too. Apparently, the best way to ensure his inclusion was to make the leadership swear to God that they’d reserve a seat for his remains.

This past Sunday, I looked down and the marvel was no more. The two ancestral pieces we’ve been carrying were in rough shape. They needed more than a rinse, which meant keeping the set from going where they usually go after the service and getting them to a proper cleaning and back. These things don’t just happen.

I did not pause the celebration of the Lord’s Supper to notify folk. Nor did I share how I was feeling like my commitment to Joseph (or his equivalent) was on shaky ground.

I did manage to thank God for the emergency grape juice runner and for coming to us in Jesus.

I am relieved to report that the plate and cup are still with us. In what is now a mirror-shine, I think I see a band of pilgrims walking on~


Rachel May