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Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Saturday, August 25, 2012


 Sermon August 26, 2012
on Joshua 24:1–2a, 14–18

Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God.  2And Joshua said to all the people,  14Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.  15Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
Amen, right? AMEN!

As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
God makes choices.
We make choices.

As we learn in the gospel of John, the 15th Chapter , In Jesus, God first chooses us:
Jesus tells us quite plainly:  You did not choose me but I chose you.

You did not choose me, I chose you.

Now in our story from Joshua, the people of Israel had seen the power of God at work in their lives. God had led their parents and grandparents out of Egypt, out of slavery and bondage, smiting Pharaoh with ten plagues, destroying Pharaoh’s mighty army when all appeared lost. When the people of Israel were hungry God sent them bread. When they were thirsty God led them to water. God led the people of Israel as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. God was with them through it all. And when they arrived at the doorstep of the Promised Land, God went before them, giving them victory over their enemies. Even the walls of mighty Jericho fell. It was all God’s doing.

God had chosen them and even when their choices to live into their relationship with God were poor choices, bad choices, head-scatchingly bad choices, God stayed with them.

And now just prior to our reading today, the people had settled in the land, one tribe here and another there. And then Joshua gathered them all together for some final thoughts. Some final instructions. A final demand and warning.
 
Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.  15Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Now, Joshua doesn’t say that Israel’s previously bad choices and God’s forgiveness of those bad choices means that the relationship between the people and God can be taken lightly. That their relationship isn’t all that important or serious. Far from it!

Joshua doesn’t say that it is fine, OK, no problem at all to just pay lip service to God. Keep the relationship skin-deep. Keep it  convenient. To just follow God only when it is easy, simple or doesn’t bring us any difficulty. Or cost us anything . No. Joshua does not say such things.

Choose this day whom you will serve.

Look, God has acted for us, chosen us in Christ Jesus, declared us to be God’s people. We cannot be ignorant of the actions of God for us. We cannot live our lives in such a way that we pretend to be ignorant of God’s actions for us. In choosing us. Forgiving us. Declaring us God’s people. Redeeming us.  We simply cannot, even though we could. Even though we can and probably do. More than we  would like to admit.

 
Choose this day whom you will serve.

 Luther tells us that to which our heart clings is our god.
Whatever we choose to serve with the whole of our lives.
That is our god.
What we choose to honor with the whole of our lives.
Invest most deeply in with the whole of our lives.
When it all comes down to it: That’s really our god.

Joshua would not have taken this pivotal moment in the history of Israel to demand that the people of Israel choose what god they would serve – the One True God or the gods of their ancestors or the gods of the people of the land – Joshua would not have taken this pivotal moment if Joshua did not know or at least suspect that once they had settled down in the land that they would forget all that God had done for them.

Live as if God had done nothing to bring them to their present reality.
Live for the now, keeping the past in the past.
Live thinking only of themselves.
Live believing that all that had been accomplished and is being accomplished in their lives was a result of their own effort, their own power, their own work.
Live by making themselves god or money their god or invent cute little bobble head-looking gods that nod yes every time they wanted to do something and not worry about the effect, the impact, the faithfulness of those actions.
Live and fail to concern themselves with justice, or the poor or the powerless.

Joshua would not have taken this pivotal moment in the history of the people of Israel if he did not suspect that the people could forget about all that God had done in their lives.
Forget to be thankful and to live thankful lives.
Forget God’s call to live righteously, justly, and faithfully.

Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.  15Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

 God in Christ Jesus chose us.
And we have our own choices to make.
Will we choose to serve God with the whole of our lives, our heart, mind and soul?
Serving the Lord isn’t some vague idea that we give our assent to and then go on with living our lives any darn way we please - It is a way of being in the world that witnesses to an observant and curious people the God to which our heart clings.  

God in Christ Jesus chose us.
And we have our own choices to make.
Will we and our households choose to serve the Lord?
AMEN.

 

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