Archive for the ‘Joshua’ Category

The Veterans Memorial Travelling Wall

Sidney, Ohio + Custenborder Field

Reveille and Morning Prayers, 8:00 a.m.

Welcome to this day – another day of remembrance

The 3rd day since the Vietnam Memorial Wall arrived in Sidney.

Your presence here honors the memory of the soldiers named here

Memorials are stones of memory

In the scriptures of our faith, stones are a lasting memorial

When Joshua led the Israelites safely across the Jordan River

into the land of Canaan

God told him to build a mound of stones

at the place where God delivered the people safely across

… the place where God opened the waters up to dry land

to give them safe passage

“when your children ask you, “what do these stones mean?”

you shall tell them ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan

here on dry ground

For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan

So we shall answer when our children ask,

“What does this stone – this wall – this memorial – mean?

We can say

this is for us to remember

those who have lived and died in service to their country

and for the good of other countries and nations

this is for us to take time to remember and to pray…

for all who have suffered and died in war

and for those who still suffer and die in war…

and are in need

And we remember before God – and commend to his sure keeping

those who have died for their country in war

This wall is also a tribute to those who returned

for the American veterans of Vietnam – and other wars

they have returned from battle and duty

and they are forever changed by what they have seen

Let us always remember to pray …

with gratitude for the peace they have preserved for our nation

for those who have died in war

and for those who came home bearing wounds – of body and soul

Let us pray

Almighty and eternal God, there is nothing that can separate us

from your love, neither death nor life.

Hear our prayers and thanksgivings for the ones we remember today
the ones who died in this war and others

we pray for the ones who gave the eternal sacrifice

for they will not grow old, as we for whom they fought will

age will not be a hard burden for them

yet their burden of death in wartime has spared

us the burden of war

and at the rising of the sun and at its setting we will remember

Lord we also pray for the ones who came home;

bearing wounds or scars

we pray for the ones who suffered …

even scorn and contempt in their own hometown,

… on their native soil

God of grace, the ones of us who have not served our country in military service are grateful for the ones who have served and the ones who are serving.

Open our hearts as we stand here to remember …

remind us of the cost the ones commemorated here have paid

and remind us to pray for the veterans who are home

Good and gracious God, our Father –

your will for your people is peace

turn our hearts again, indeed every heart, to yourself

Fill the world with your grace so that we may live in harmony

Fill the world with your justice and mercy

so that your peace will prevail

Lord give each of us and the rulers of all nations the wisdom

to fulfill your word through prophets …

to beat our swords into plowshares

and our spears into pruning hooks

until nations do not lift up sword against nation

and we shall not study war any more.

May it be so with us

by the power of the Holy Spirit, and for the sake of

our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


I read that, at his funeral, Winston Churchill gave instructions

after the Benediction, Taps was to be played

the tune that marks the end of the day, and the end of a life

but just as soon as the final note of Taps was blown …

another bugler, on the other side of the cathedral, played Reveille

because for people of faith, death is not the final word

and we have the opportunity to get up, and live – to awaken

and pledge our lives in the new day

for the service of God

and our fellow human being

to help, encourage, and comfort others,

and support those working for the relief of the needy

and for the peace and welfare of the nations.

for his sake


Go into the world in peace;

be of good courage;

hold fast to that which is good,

return no one evil for evil;

strengthen the fainthearted;

support the weak;

help the afflicted;

honor everyone;

love and serve the Lord,

rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.

And may the blessing of God Almighty,

the Father,

the Son

and the Holy Spirit be with you

and everyone you love

today and forever. Amen

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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Joshua 24: 1-3, 14-25

You have to serve somebody


I.        Way In

A.      Have you had an opportunity to clean out lately?

1.      Your house, basement, attic, back seat/trunk of your car

2.      I have – my family, in our recent move to Ohio

a.      opportunity to go through our stuff

i.        yard sale as we prepared to move from SYR

ii.      many trips to Goodwill, EPC  & WPC for rummage sales

iii.    putting stuff out on the curb

·         amazing how fast it disappears

iv.     surprised, even after arrival in Sidney

·         unpacking, still finding stuff to …

·         maybe not exactly still finding things to throw out right away …

·         but at least “in holding” for now

b.      I tend to be a “saver”

i.        but I’m getting better

·         well, a little

·         still have things

·         mementos, rocks, coins, photos, concert tix (Chicago, Rolling Stones), newspaper clippings, books

ii.      so much now to help a “saver” like me, also known as a pack rat

·         taken to photographing or scanning items and keepsakes

·         then saving as a computer file – to put on a DVD

·         much easier to save that way

c.       Throwing things out is good, too

i.        feels good to cull stuff out

·         good opportunity when you’re moving

·         do I really still need this?  when was the last time I used it?

·         when was the last time I wore these pants?

·         when was the last time I could get into these pants?

·         a year ago? more? definitely get rid of it

·         but it’s such a cool shirt, concert t-shirt, etc.

·         take a picture of it, of me wearing it (if I can)

·         save the picture, on computer (back it up!)

·         much easier to save that way

·         boxes of newspaper clippings

·         scanned them or found them on-line

·         saved digital copies

ii.      felt good to bag it up and get rid of it

·         whether taking the bag to the dump and hurling it away

·         … taking it to Goodwill or rummage sale and giving it away

·         … putting that bag on the curb and walking away

·         maybe watching the city come and haul it away

B.      My friend Dave who lives in CO

1.       invited me and a few other guys to in-law’s cabin in Maine – Bog Lake Retreat

2.       spent most of a Saturday

a.      sitting around wood stove in cabin by Bog Lake

b.      circle of new friends, yet a circle of trust, even vulnerability

c.       shared some of our deepest spiritual and emotional stories

d.      agreed to

i.        listen

ii.      ask probing questions for clarity

iii.    and not to try to solve the others’ problems

iv.     process is a Quaker practice called “Clearness Committee,” described by Parker Palmer in Let Your Life Speak.  I recommend it

3.      next morning early, we went for a long hike along Maine’s northern coast

a.      just before reaching the trail that would lead to a rocky point 

i.        high above the crashing waves

ii.      …Dave told us to each pick up a large rock

·         “Don’t get one that’s too heavy to carry another mile or so,” he said,

·          “but get one that’s heavy enough so you can feel it.”

b.       We chose our rocks and Dave led us up to the point.

i.        when we got there, Dave gave us some time to rest and reflect

ii.      then he gave us some paper, a pen, and some string

iii.    told us to write the name of a burden we wanted to leave aside on the paper

·         put the paper on the rock, tie it around with the string

iv.     take a moment to think

·         share something about the burden with the group

·         throw it in the ocean

c.       the first step, Dave said, in un-burdening ourselves

C.      Bridge

1.      some things are easier to throw away than others

a.      whether cleaning out a closet, carrying out the garbage, casting a burden into the ocean

b.      might be a little scary

i.        what if I need it?

ii.      what if it was a gift …

·         and the person who gave it to me discovers I threw it away?

iii.    what if it’s such a heavy burden, even a secret one …

·         and I have to describe it to some guys on the shore in Maine

c.       maybe this thing is a pain, but its been around so long that it’s like comfort food

d.      maybe throwing this out uncovers something else

2.      it gets complicated

a.      but its important to decide about some things to get rid of

b.      especially those things that hold us back

i.        especially in the unproductive, cumbersome ways that hold us back

II.      Tell the Story

A.      Joshua is talking to Israel about things God has done for them

1.      it was Israel’s duty to respond

2.      verses preceding today’s reading are a litany of what God has done

a.      covenant with Abraham and Sarah

b.      bringing them out of Egypt

c.       leading Israel into Promised Land

i.        helped them get rid of the people who were already there

·         … that believed the land belonged to them

ii.      that’s a topic for another day

iii.    God delivered Israel to the land on which they neither labored or planted

·         but lived in towns and ate the fruit of the vineyards

B.      “Now, therefore …”

1.      not later, “Now”

a.      like parents, “I don’t mean when you feel like it.  I mean now

2.      “therefore”

a.      because of all of that….then, this

C.      Now, because of all that the Lord has done, you ought to respond like this

1.      Revere the Lord

a.      respect, honor

b.      behold the Lord your God in awe and with reference

c.       some transl. “fear the Lord”

i.        above is what that means, it doesn’t mean to be scared to death of God

2.      Put away the gods your ancestors served”

a.      back before the were saved coming across the river

i.        other side of the Euphrates

b.      forget about the other gods you served in those days

i.        idols, false gods; old way, desires, practices

c.       Put away those other gods your ancestors worshiped back in Mesopotamia

i.        put those gods away and serve the Lord

D.     “And if,” Joshua continues

1.      … if you won’t do that – if you won’t serve the Lord your God

a.      the one who has done all these mighty deeds for you

2.      then you’re going to have to figure out who you’re going to serve

a.      because you have to serve somebody

i.        whoever you are … you have to serve somebody

ii.      it may be more like something that somebody

·         but whoever you are

·         somebody or something is going to be over you

·         …guiding the way you thing

·         … guiding what you do

·         … driving you on to be more, or get more

iii.    you have to serve somebody

E.      “But as for me,” says Joshua

1.      as for me and my household …

2.      we will serve the Lord

F.       Joshua to Israel:

1.      Look at everything God has done for you

a.      see the things God has saved you from

b.      where God has led you

c.       what God has given you

2.      Look around at all this Promised Land

a.      … how could you do anything else, but

b.      put away the false, useless gods you ancestors served

c.       and worship the Lord

3.      Throw out those old ways

a.      put them behind you

b.      you’re not who you used to be

G.     Israel answered, “Of course we’ll serve the Lord our God.”

H.     Joshua – “You know what this means, don’t you?”

1.      it’s not going to be easy

2.      You are choosing to throw away those old gods of your ancestors

a.      you’re rejecting idolatry

b.      “moving from god-makers to God-followers”

I.        Israel agreed, “Yes we are witnesses against ourselves to this.”

III.    So What?

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

1.      forgetting everything from the past

2.      … turning to new ways

3.      … not allowing those things to keep a hold on me

B.      It’s like throwing that stuff out I was talking about before

1.      like cleaning out that closet, getting rid of those old things

a.      throwing them away, giving them away, walking away from them

C.      what are the ‘old gods’ we throw out?  what are the old things?

1.      might be hard to do.   hard to tell.  hard to turn loose

a.      the old clothes, old newspapers, nick-knacks

i.        things talking up space in our closet and in our life

ii.      things we haven’t used in a year – even years

iii.    things like this aren’t hard to identify

b.      may not be things we can lay our hands on

i.        could be habits that help us forget the pain or at least feel better for the moment

·         then identifying the habit, means remembering the pain or feeling we’re trying to cover up

·         some of these are helpful coping mechanisms

·         crying out loud, counseling

·         some turn to gripping habits

2.      some of those are hard to drop – like smoking

a.      like me smoking, off and on for many years – and more on than off

b.      I knew I should quit

c.       didn’t really want to, though

d.      took having a heart attack in Dec. 2001 to change my mind

i.        to get rid of that old god that  fell to my knees before daily

ii.      what a strong habit

·         I still think about it

·         sometimes I think the feeling of not doing it  is stronger than doing it

3.      some habits (old gods) are not as deadly as smoking …

a.      but can be damaging to ourselves, our relationships

i.        like denying our feelings

ii.      like over-spending, over-scheduling, over-eating

·         esp. when we do these to keep us from feeling something, or masking something else

iii.    for example: a little “retail therapy” can be good

·         a good reward for losing weight – buy some new clothes

·         can be a good thing, but retail therapy can get out of control

·         witness the credit and savings debacle in our country

D.     Whatever it is for you: smoking, nail-biting, over-spending, denying your feelings

1.      throwing away these old gods means admitting that this way of thinking or doing …

a.      used to serve a purpose

b.      but now the thing itself may have become more prevalent or damaging

c.       now it’s just as hard not to do

i.        which is fine if it’s like: replacing over-indulging with exercise and care of what you eat

ii.      but not if it’s like using tobacco for a little pick-me-up or buzz

·         that becomes a damaging/deadly habit

2.      Getting rid of these often means replacing them with something else

a.      and I don’t mean replacing bad for bad

i.        like when I stopped smoking once and starting using (let’s just say smokeless tobacco)

ii.      that’s bad for bad – or bad for worse

b.      replacing the deadly habit with a life-giving habit like exercise is ideal

i.        and I do better with it at some times than others

ii.      but, thank God, I have been able to keep the bad habit away

E.      Sometimes throwing out those old gods means a daily trip to the garbage can, dump, or Goodwill

1.      they have a way of re-surfacing, coming back

2.      sometime we have to keep going back and bagging them up, hauling them back out

F.       Joshua said, “you have to serve somebody.”

1.      that always brings a more contemporary voice to my mind …

2.      Bob Dylan, “You Gotta Serve Somebody”  listen


  read some of the lyrics, ending with … 

            You’re gonna have to serve somebody

It may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

3.      If you decide not to serve the Lord your God, choose who (or what) you will serve

a.      not serving the Lord means choosing the gods you make or find for yourself

4.      but the promise and the possibility remain for us … as for Joshua

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

i.        so may it be with us.  Amen.

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