Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: Egypt

Giveaway: “The Great Escape” chapter book

On Easter-eve I was flipping through the channels on the television and found Charlton Heston. He was dressed as Egyptian royalty giving orders to the other Egyptians. It was, of course, the well-known film The Ten Commandments.

M. J. Thomas continues his Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series of children chapter books with the third installment – The Great Escape – by providing a slightly different take on the famous Moses narrative.

Siblings Peter and Mary hear the roar of the lion and are transported to ancient Egypt to solve the mystery of the hidden scroll. The children emerge into the narrative of Moses pleading with Pharoah the let the people go. Peter and Mary meet both Egyptian and Hebrew children that offer a different perspective to this well-known story.

The Great Escape is a fun book for young readers ages 6-9. It has plenty of adventure to keep children engaged.

Teachable Moments

This book lends itself well to educational opportunities. It could easily be used to teach about ancient Egyptian culture, including language. There is an opportunity to discuss how those who are not in power are often marginalized and oppressed. Comparisons can be made to plenty of connections throughout history, and how even today we see the same power dynamic at play. And while I was never a fan of vocabulary in school, there are plenty of new words introduced to young readers.

The Giveaway

Thanks to WorthyKids/Ideals, I am able to give away one copy of this book to a lucky winner. Use the form below to enter.

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"The Great Escape" is the third in M. J. Thomas' The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series. This book is ideal for children ages 6-9, reading level grades 1-3. Young readers will join Peter, Mary, and their dog Hank as they travel back in time to ancient Egypt as Moses pleads with Pharaoh to let the people go. Shipping will be provided to winners in the continental US. More shares on social media will increase your chances of winning. Thanks to Worthy Kids/Ideals for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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You can buy your own copy of “The Great Escape” by clicking on the image below.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader’s copy.

Sermon: Complaint or Concern?

This was a sermon I preached at St. Mark’s United Methodist in Richmond. I preached on Exodus 17:1-7 as part of their Complaining is Draining sermon series. This audio is from the 11:00am service. You can also listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.

Guest Post: God Protects

by Minoka Gunesekera

washing_3262c-2Read Exodus 12:1-14

Many times when I go home from seminary I eat with my closest friends and family. It has become almost a ritual. The food and the actions may not be very unique, but when my community gathers for a meal it shows me an example of God’s love and devotion. And those moments of love I hold in my heart when I am away and I feel like I am about to walk into an “impending plague” or a time of trial. Just like the memory of these meals, God’s protection follows us when we feel like we need to be rescued, not because we did anything to deserve it but because that is God’s expression of mercy.

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An American Tail (1986)

an_american_tailAn American Tail is the second animated film from director Don Bluth after he left the Disney studio. The first was The Secret of NIMH. Both of these “mouse” films try to recapture the magic of the classic Disney films like Snow White and Pinocchio. Yet, it struggles to compare. The music and lip-singing is distracting. The animation is detailed and full. It makes use of computer animation in a way that was unique at the time. But, it is clear, that the vision comes from the early Disney films.

The hero of the film is the second child, Fievel. His and his family undergo hardships being ruined by an oppressive government of cats in 19th century Russia. Homes are destroyed and burned. The cats chase the mice away, and the mice decide to migrate to America, where there are no cats.

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Water From the Rock

Read Exodus 17:1-7.

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.comThe last few days Megan and I have been doing a 7 fast. Megan is using Jen Hatmaker’s book 7:  An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess in a Bible study this semester at her church. Each week there is a different fast from the excess in our lives. The idea is that we would limit ourselves with seven different foods. Some choose to fast from 7 foods. Whatever you do, the point is to be consistent. My friend Sarah is doing it too, and she blogged about her first day here.

Megan and I decided to eat a Costa Rican diet of chicken, rice, beans, fruits and veggies for a week. In this way, we would connect with the people of Costa Rica, especially those in the shantytown of Los Diques I met over 8 years ago on my first mission trip there.

I will say that I was looking forward to it. I love Costa Rican food. It is so delicious! The first day was Thursday. I had traditional rice and beans for breakfast. The time between breakfast and lunch seemed to last an eternity. I was starving by the time I ate lunch, which were simple tacos, nothing fancy. For dinner, we made traditional arroz con pollo – chicken and rice. For those of you who remember Pura Vida Cafe in Mechanicsville, I used their recipe. I snacked only once, post dinner after two church meetings. And that was a banana.

I didn’t think it would be so hard! But sometime Friday, as my stomach longed for something other than  rice and beans, I thought of the children living in Los Diques. Some of them would be lucky to have the rice and beans I was already tired of eating.  I have watched church leaders in that shantytown fix plates of food and take it to a “house” (a term I use loosely) where the children living in the home had a mother addicted to so many pills, that she was not aware that her children had not eaten that day. The reality was that those church leaders looking out for those children, did not enough food themselves.

In our text today from Exodus, the people of God are on this journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. There are still pretty new to the journey. They have not yet received the Ten Commandments. A dispute breaks out between the people and Moses, their leader, over the lack of water. Water in the ancient world was very much a matter of life and death.  The lack of water was enough to cause some to wonder if they had made the wrong decision. Were they better off in Egypt, where they had water? In Egypt, they had water. In Egypt they had shelter from the hot, burning sun. In Egypt, it sucked being slaves, but they had certain comforts they are lacking now.

It is easy, and frankly has often been done, to make the text about the Israelites misbehaving again and complaining and not trusting God. The Israelites had just left Egypt, and were traveling through the desert and wilderness. Water was not just a comfort, but a necessity. Nyasha Junior writes, “When people are still concerned with basic needs, they require not a rebuke for lack of faithfulness, but compassion.” Perhaps there are such people in our communities who are faithful, yet lack the basic needs. During my first mission trip to Costa Rica, that was what I found. Faithful people who lacked the basic needs of water, food, and electricity.

As we contemplate this Lent the brokenness of our relationships with God and others, let us not forget those who are thirsty or hungry.

Guest Post: When There is Love

Rev. Lisa McGehee is an ordained deacon in the Virginia Annual Conference serving as Minister of Adult Discipleship and Communications at Good Shepherd United Methodist in Henrico, Virginia. 

Slide3Read Psalm 72. 

The theme for the second Sunday of Advent is love. While the word love is not found in Psalm 72, it’s there in the prayers for justice and righteousness. Psalm 72 originated as a prayer for the king – it is thought to be King David’s last psalm written for his son Solomon. It’s a prayer focused on justice and righteousness – God’s justice and God’s righteousness. It’s a prayer that gives a charge to the king (vv. 2-7) to protect and defend the poor and the needy and to take down those that oppress. Or as described in The Message, “Please stand up for the poor, help the children of the needy, come down hard on the cruel tyrants.” The psalmist prays that justice and righteousness prevails when the king stays focused on God’s plan.

Where there is justice and righteousness there is peace. Where there is peace there is love. Ah, peace and love. Perhaps there is no other time when we pray for peace and love more than Advent. Oh, but wait, this year we have constantly prayed for peace and justice. We’ve prayed for Egypt, Syria and North Korea. We’ve prayed for innocent children and teachers, for Navy yard workers, for marathon runners who lost their lives because someone was calling out for help or sought revenge. We have prayed for senior adults who cut back on meals because of local food pantries with empty shelves. We’ve prayed for cities that have declared bankruptcy. These issues seem insurmountable. This is due in part because governments and political systems appear to be the controllers, perhaps even the oppressors, of this world. Yes, we have prayed for peace and love this year.

Psalm 72 doesn’t give a strategic plan on how to bring about justice and righteousness. However, the key is found throughout all of scripture – the key is love. Even in the darkest of days and times, where there is love, oppression is lifted. When we remember the love that God has for this world, we work harder for justice and righteousness. This week, think about ways that you can be the king – or queen – of love who stands up for the poor, who helps the children and who lets the oppressor know that their way is not a way of love.

Bible’s Major Players: Potiphar’s Wife

Slide2The Bible is filled with some major players. Potiphar’s wife is one from the Old Testament.

The story of Potiphar’s wife is a part of the Joseph narrative found in Genesis 39. Joseph was sold in slavery by his jealous brothers. Through a series of fortunate events, guided by the hand of God, Joseph was purchased by Potiphar, the commander of Pharaoh’s royal guard, and an Egyptian. Joseph was quickly put in charge of the household. The Mr. Carson of Potiphar’s house (Genesis 39:6).

The Bible tells us that Joseph was young, handsome, and smart. He was a natural leader. No wonder he was in charge of the whole household at such a young age. So, here is Joseph the young, handsome, smart leader of the household. He has been rejected by his family, sold into slavery, and sent to a foreign land. He spends the bulk of his day in charge while his master is at work.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Potiphar is at home too. She was an older woman home with her servants most of the day. Maybe she was neglected. Maybe she was needy. Maybe Mr. P worked long hours. Maybe she needed attention.

Mrs. Potiphar is the original Real Housewife. She is attracted to Joseph and makes passes at him. And even though he denies her invitations, she doesn’t stop asking.

One day when Joseph arrived at the house to do his work, none of the household’s men were there. (Gen. 39:11, CEB)

Anyone else think this should cause a red flag?

She grabbed his garment, saying, “Lie down with me.” But he left his garment in her hands and run outside, she summoned the men of her house and said to them, “Look, my husband brought us a Hebrew to ridicule us. He came to me to lie down with me, but I screamed. When he heard me raise my voice and scream, he left his garment with me and ran outside.” (Gen. 39:12-14, CEB)

Joan Collins as Potiphar's wife in Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat

Joan Collins as Potiphar’s wife in Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat

You got to give her an A for effort. We quickly switched channels in this story from the Real Housewives to Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. When Mrs. P didn’t get what she wanted, she cried rape. A serious accusation, then and now.

There is no telling how many other housemen she had tried this with. Imagine the Real Housewives anger she must have experienced. Angry enough to blame her husband AND insult Joseph. “Look what this Hebrew my husband gave us did,” she says. But, let us not forget that she still had Joseph’s garments in her hand. But in Joseph’s case, clothes don’t make the man. God does.

But she is still part of the rich and powerful. She pleads her case to her husband, and he sends Joseph to jail. Some have suggested that if Potiphar really truly believed that Joseph had attempted to rape his wife, he would have had Joseph sentenced to death. Perhaps there is something special about this Hebrew.

Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann, in his commentary on Genesis, suggests that the two main characters in this episode symbolize a tension between the Kingdom and the empire. (Notice the upper and lower case letters, I did that on purpose). It is the tension between living as a faithful disciple and living as the world demands us to. It is the tension between living as called by the power of God and living as called by the power of society.

Potiphar’s wife represents the empire and those in power. Joseph is a symbol of the faithful. The faithful will be faced with moments when they will be asked by those in power (sex aside) to do something that goes against the Kingdom. Joseph’s response was to not do it, and to remain faithful to his God.

It should be noted that it was in jail that Joseph meets the men who tell him about Pharaoh’s dreams and interprets them. It because of these men in jail that Joseph rises to power as a Governor. Crappy things happened to Joseph, but God was with him through it all, and Joseph was faithful through it all.

What will your response be?

Resources: Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis. John Knox Press, 1982.

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