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A Matter of Timing

Here’s something you may not realize: the picking of Scriptures for worship is not simply a “rando” matter. I prepare a preaching schedule that runs from liturgical season to season. For instance, I am finishing up a schedule that ran from Labor Day through Christ the King Sunday, leading to Advent. Since it began Labor Day, I prepared it in early August. I prepare the schedule for a couple of reasons, first, to bring some continuity to our worship (i.e. using the same Book of the Bible thematically for numerous weeks), and also to give our fine musicians an opportunity to coordinate the music with the weekly theme.

As I was scheduling this week, one of my favorite passages from Joshua came up. “…choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).” Joshua’s time of leadership was coming to a close, giving way to a rather unsettled period known as the period of the Judges. His admonishment is to remember the covenant, remember God’s action in the establishment of the covenant community, and to remain faithful.

Joshua and Moses before him in Deuteronomy 6, recognized that a time of ease brings a sense of self-sufficiency and, frankly, spiritual amnesia. Don’t forget, both of these giants of the faith instruct. Peace without shalom is illusory.

In August, when Sunday’s text was chosen, who could have known that war would consume Gaza, the West Bank, and threaten Israel and the middle east? The situation that has created this conflict is long-standing and complex. There are many players, both seen and unseen. I don’t pretend to have a solid feel for the unfolding events.

But, I do know this; when a house is on fire, one puts out the fire. Determining the cause of the fire and rebuilding the house comes after the fire is put out. What caused the house to burn? What can be done to prevent future fires? How can the new structure be better, more hospitable, and serviceable than the old? Well, you get the metaphor.

There will be no long-term peace without shalom. That goes for Israel/Palestine, it also goes for our increasingly fractured culture here at home. Throwing gasoline on a fire is no way to put it out. Burning the neighbor’s house instead of putting your own fire out is no solution. No where is Jesus quoted as saying, “blessed are the pyromaniacs.” Yet, they seem to be everywhere.

According to Joshua 24:21, the people chose. Then they forgot. It seems to me that it is a matter of timing. Whom will we serve? Will we choose? Will we forget?

See you Sunday,


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