SERMON TITLE: “Forgiveness: Making Fruit from Misfortune”
SERMON TEXT: Genesis 41:46-52
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: January 24, 2021, at First UMC
I’m going to ask you a question, and I want you to see what immediately comes into your mind. Ready? Here goes. Have you ever bought a lemon?
Most of you probably thought quickly of a little yellow fruit, right? Maybe some of your minds whizzed past the fruit to something else, like a car that didn’t work very well. If you lived in the U.S. in the 1920s, and you understood the slang of that era, you might have thought I was talking about a scam or a hustle. Back then, a “lemon” was the fast talk and deceitful trick that created victims. All those secondary associations derive from the idea that a lemon is a sour fruit that is somewhat painful to eat. Eating a lemon can make your face contort in discomfort. Thus, the brightly colored and innocent little fruit packed full of Vitamin C became a symbol of an unfortunate and painful life experience. Misfortune and suffering are common human experiences; however, not everyone reacts the same way to life’s lemons. While some people become sourpusses and remain bitter, others are able to forgive the offense and regain their sweet composure. Thus was born the positive admonition, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Of course, making a positive out of a negative can be challenging. That’s why we’re spending this whole month of January talking about the topic of forgiveness. In this series of sermons, we’ve been reading the painful story of Jacob, Leah, Rachel, and their 12 sons. In that dysfunctional biblical family, there were a whole lot of sour lemons. Today, we continue the story in Genesis chapter 41. Let’s see how Joseph turned his lemons into lemonade. Or, to put that in the words of this scripture, let’s see how Joseph moved toward forgiveness by making fruit from misfortune.