14th Sunday of Pentecost – Sunday, August 26, 2018

August 27, 2018  

Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18

It could have been the Mall of America. Except Europeans hadn’t settled the northern Midwest. And there was no such thing as a Mall. But—if those things had happened or did exist, I think Joshua might have spoken different words than what he did to the elders, the heads of tribes, the judges, and the officers of Israel. He might have walked them through the Mall, passing by store after store, describing their options.

He demanded the leaders of Israel make a choice, telling them to “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

Many gods were served in Joshua’s day. Each tribe had their own god… Joshua named the gods of the leaders’ ancestors and the gods of the Amorites. Dozens if not thousands of other gods existed.

In our day and age, walking through a mall or a strip of stores, we would be seeing more modern gods.

The gods of wealth. Look in the leather store, the jewelry store, the clothing store with furs and silk suits. Serve the gods of wealth and you might possess exotic gems, golds, silver…

The gods of pleasure. We are tempted by foods, by scents, by flavors, by the feel of fine fabrics or an expensive wine. Expensive caviar. Cases of champagne. Illicit drugs. Erotica.

Then there are other gods we worship, gods not found in stores but in systems:

The gods of power. We might desire political power. Economic power. Social power. We maintain those systems that grant us ethnic or racial privilege.

The gods of privilege. We maintain those systems that grant us ethnic or racial privilege.

What might our response be if we were asked to “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

We know what our answer is supposed to be. We know what we are supposed to choose. We know we are supposed to choose God.

Then we look at our lives. What do our lives suggest we serve?Whom do we serve? What do we serve?

The choice to serve God is the choice to be self-less. This choice is so difficult. The choice to serve God feels prut-near impossible! We are bombarded by so many other things, other people, other needs that tempt us. And yet… and yet God calls us to love others more than self, to serve others more than self, to sacrifice self for others.

The choice to serve God is a choice that becomes a bit simpler when we make the choice knowing we are not alone, when we know we join a community of other people who have made the same choice. Which is one of the many reasons why Church, why congregations become so important to us. Here in this place, as in all other congregations around the world, we have a people gathered in the name of Christ, a people working together to live lives of abundance—where the abundance we celebrate is the abundance of love. Not money, not power, not prestige—love! God’s love!

Here in this place we join our voices together, telling each other and telling others the choice we have made. We declare together: as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Say it if you believe it: As for me and my household. We will serve the Lord.

May God be with as us in our service to God.

Amen.