“Joshua People: Remember, Remind and Recommit”

(Joshua 24:14-18; 2 Peter 1:10-17)

 

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn

INTRODUCTION:

      The older I get the more I realize that memory is tricky. I can remember the address and phone number of the house I lived in when I was 5 (2470 Highway 66, Zone 2, St. Louis, MO. Harrison 8;7378) but I can’t remember which of my kids or Grandkids I’m talking to. I seem to start at the oldest child and work my way down, including the names of all the pets we’ve ever had, too.

      But it’s nice to know I’m not the only one with this affliction. A number of years ago, the church I was serving received a memorial gift to the Church. There was a short note written on a beautiful little card that describing who they wanted to honor. It said the usual thing, "Enclosed you will find a check to be used as a memorial for..."  Unfortunately, the person who sent it forgot to sign the note AND to enclose the check. And to top it all off, the card had been purchased from the Altzheimer's Foundation.

      Our memories might be getting worse but some of it is simply a product of the information deluge we all face every day. The other is simply because we are getting older, our mental hard drives are getting full and there’s no defrag program for the brain.

      Sometimes we suffer from selective amnesia but when it comes to the work and presences of God in our lives what we need is Anamnesis. Anamnesis: in medical terms it is a review of the entire case history. In faith terms Anamnesis is a deep remembering of God’s Salvation history.

      That’s why Joshua called the people together there at the Jordan. Joshua recalled all the history of their relationship with God.He asked them to do that deep remembering, that anamnesis. And then Joshua challenged them.

 Joshua 24:14-18 (NRSV)
[14] "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.
[15] Now 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."
[16] Then the people answered, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods;
[17] for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed;
[18] and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God."
      Just like the people of Israel, we are called to Remember. Joshua People: Remember, Remind and Recommit.

I. REMEMBER:

      A.  Joshua People Remember.

      In the movie The Final Season, Sean Astin plays in the true story of Kent Stock, who in the early 90's, gave up a job and his wedding plans to take over as head coach of the Norway, Iowa, High School baseball team. In the small Midwestern town, population 586, baseball is a legacy passed from father to son, generation to generation.

      Coach Jim Van Scoyoc, who won 19 State Championship in 23 years, was fired when the local bureaucracy decided to merge Norway into a larger school. Kent Stock, a 24 year old one-season assistant coach to Van Scoyoc, is hired as a sure fire failure so the merger will go through.

      In this “David and Goliath” sort of flick, Coach Stock must win over his players and convince them and himself that he can fill their former coach's shoes and that they can go out winners, taking home their 20th State Championship before their school is closed.

      In the locker room, before the big game, Coach Stock tells the team, “OK, it’s won and done, forever. South Clay is 31 and 8. The 8 games they lost was when Reed Ellis wasn’t in the rotation. He’s pitching today. We all know he’s being scouted by pro teams but one player doesn’t win a baseball game.” One of the boys says,

      “He can if he throws 92 miles an hour coach.”

      The Coach goes on, “We win by playing Norway baseball. Eighty percent of this game is defense. We don’t let anything get out of the infield and we wait. Sooner or later they’ll make a mistake. Every player who has ever worn a Norway uniform is out there with you today. Think about this, not other Iowa High School baseball dynasty has ever won a state championship in their final season. We’re playing for everyone who knows that Norway is a great place to come home to. No matter what happens today this time next year the jerseys you’re wearing today will be polishing chrome in Madison High School. So ask yourself one question: ‘How do you want to be remembered?’”

      B.   That’s a great question. It’s a question about legacy and heroes and role models. I don’t think those who have gone before ever really planned on how much their faith would influence ours but it did. And because of that Joshua People Remember.

      We remember every person who has gone before us from 1874 until today. We remember every person whose faith and life has touched ours and shaped us into the people we are today. We remember the generations whose faithfulness and sacrifices brought us and taught us and inspired us through the years. We may not know their names but we remember because it is part of our heritage.

      Even more importantly, we remember what Christ has done for us. We remember the cost of our salvation. We remember the sacrifice he made for our sake. We remember the humiliation and pain of the cross. We remember the words of derision and the lash of the whip. We remember the jeers of the crowd and the pain of the nails. We remember his broken body being laid in a tomb.

      And we remember the joy of Easter morning and how the tomb was empty and God’s promises fulfilled. But mostly we remember OUR first Easter morning, the day WE realized that OUR sins were forgiven and that the promises of God were for US. And that the promise of life eternal was ours.

      Joshua People Remember.

II. REMIND:

      A.  Joshua People Remind. We remind one and other of those promises. We remind one and other of our Covenant with God. We remind one and other of our forgiveness. Joshua People Remind. In Peter’s second letter he writes

2 Peter 1:10-17 (NRSV)
[10] Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble.
[11] For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.
[12] Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you.
[13] I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory,
[14] since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.
[15] And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
[16] For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
[17] For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

      Notice what Peter says, “I intend to keep on reminding you.” That’s part of our role as Joshua People, to keep on reminding each other of tall that God has done for us. Joshua People Remind.

      In the movie little movie Waitress, the main character, Jenna, is an unhappily married waitress in the local diner. Her husband is a controlling creep who is verbally abusive. Jenna’s one outlet is baking pies. She is creative and the bakes the most delicious pies around.

      Her dream is to win a pie-baking contest so, with what little money she has squirreled away, she'll have enough cash to leave her husband. But then she discovers she is pregnant. As the pregnancy advances, life with Earl becomes less tolerable, a way out less clear, and life just seems to get more complicated. In one of those moments of depression she waits on Old Joe, a crusty old curmudgeon of a character played by Andy Griffith who loves Jenna’s pies.

      When Jenna belittles the importance of her Strawberry Chocolate Oasis Pie, Old Joe reminds her of how truly special it is. He says: “Nobody makes Chocolate Strawberry pie the way you do. Wednesday is my favorite day of the week cause I get to have a slice of it. I think about it as I’m waking up. Could solve all the problems of the world, that pie.”

      Jenna says, “You’r making so much of it, it’s just a pie.”

      Joe says, “Just a pie? It’s downright expert; a thing of beauty. How each flavor opens itself one by one like a chapter in a book. First the flavor of an exotic spice hits you, just a hint of it. The you’re flooded with chocolate, dark and bittersweet, like an old love affair. And finally, strawberry, the way strawberry was always supposed to taste but never knew how.”

      Old Joe reminded Jenna of her talent and her gift and how much it meant to him. And in so doing Old Joe reminded Jenna that she wasn’t alone.

      B.   We need that same kind of reminder in our lives all the time. We need that kind of reminder right now while everything around us seem so unstable. We need to remind ourselves and others that God is still in charge. Just because times got tough doesn’t mean God gave up.

      We need to remind ourselves and others that Jesus is still working. God will never take a vacation. As long as people seek God and even when the quit seeking God, God will continue to seek them. God in Christ is looking for people who are hurting, people who are lonely, people who are scared, people at a loss, people who are bound by addictions of every kind.  And the message of Christ is this: "Come to all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

      Joshua People Remember and Remind. We Remember the promises, we Remember Who and Whose we are and we Remind each other. Joshua People Remind.

III. RECOMMIT:

      A.  And finally, Joshua People Recommit.

      When Joshua gathered the people of Israel his purpose was to Remind them who they are and how they got there. He called them to Remember what God had done for them and then Joshua challenged them to Recommit their lives by saying: “Choose this day whom you will serve.”

      Remembering and Reminding made the Recommitment easier. For when they remembered the promises of God and Reminded themselves of all that God had accomplished in their lives, who they were and how they got there, their lives were filled with Hope. It is easy to Recommit when there is Hope both for the present and the future.

      Frederick Buechner wrote, “Hope stands up to its knees in the past and keeps its eyes on the future. There has never been a time past when God wasn't with us as the strength beyond our strength, the wisdom beyond our wisdom. To remember the past is to see that we are here today by grace, that we have survived as a gift.”

      That Gift of Grace, that gift of God’s presence is what allows us and calls us and challenges us like Joshua to Recommit our lives to God. In a sense, every time we come through these doors to worship, every time we bow our heads in prayer, every time we gather for fellowship, every time we help a stranger, offer forgiveness, or give a hand up we are Recommitting ourselves once again.

      Every time we gather to baptize an infant, youth or adult; every time someone joins the church and begins that journey of discipleship with us we Recommit ourselves through the vows we all take.

      Your involvement is a sign of your Recommittment.

CONCLUSION:

      An old Reader’s Digest story told of a man who flew his own plane but got tired of the long auto trip from the airport to his country place which was situated on a lovely lake. So he equipped his plane with pontoons so he could land right in front of his cottage. However, on his first trip up to the country with his newly-equipped plane, he headed for a landing at the airport just as he always had done in the past.  Old habits are hard to break. 

      But just as he was going in for the landing it dawned on his wife what was happening and she hollered, "What do you think you're doing? You can't land this thing on the runway. You don't have any wheels,  you've got pontoons on it!" 

      Fortunately, her warning shout was in time and he pulled up from his landing pattern, swung the airplane around, and headed the plane for a landing on the lake. After the plane landed safely on the lake he heaved a really big sigh of relief, turned to his wife and said, "That's about the stupidest thing I've ever done!"  And then he opened the door, stepped out and fell directly into the lake.”

      I tell that story to let you know that there will be times when we will Forget, Neglect and Turn Away. But hear the Good News. God will not forsake us or leave us. Hear the Good News, God will continue to call us and remind us of God’s promises. Hear the Good News God will continue to offer forgiveness and a way home; if we will turn to God and Remember, Remind and Recommit.

 

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

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Other References Consulted