Joshua 24:15 (RSV)
And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers and mothers served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
The putt rolled into the hole on the 18th hole and I knew it had been a special day. The player keeping score wrote it down and added it up. He looked at me and said in an almost disbelieving voice, “You shot a 77.” I did it from the regular tees, too; not the senior tees...or even the super senior tees. It was one of those moments when the angels sang and church bells tolled and the cries of freedom were heard throughout the land. Of course, that 77 and one dollar will still only buy me a cup of coffee at McDonalds. A senior coffee, that is.
An amateur like me does not break 80 on the golf course without some kind of investment in equipment, time, practice, and study. One doesn’t do anything well without a similar investment. We don’t do anything well unless we study and practice. Just about every line of work requires continuing education and dedication. My Old Testament professor at Duke held up a textbook on the first Tuesday of our class. It was the textbook I had used for a year in college. I thought I had it made. He said, “This isn’t a bad book. If you haven’t read it, do so by Friday.” It was one of those humbling moments when I realized I would never stop reading as long as I lived.
One great Old Testament scene learned by every student in seminary is the covenant at Shechem. Joshua is old, the land is firmly in control of the Hebrews, but much remains to be done. Joshua calls the people together at Shechem and utters the words at the beginning of this piece. “Choose this day whom you will serve....but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Choose this day whom (or even what) you will serve. Because we will all serve something...or even someone. We will choose love...or we won’t. We will choose faith...or we won’t. We will choose peace...or we won’t. I know people who have chosen the church against the wishes of their families. I know people who used to choose golf...and chose fishing. But every day we dedicate ourselves to something. The thing with Joshua and his house, however, encourages us to also choose the Lord. Doing so, I’ve always believed, makes us better people.
O Zion, haste, thy mission high fulfilling,
To tell to all the world that God is light,
That he who made all nations is not willing
One soul should perish, lost in shades of night.
Publish glad tidings, tidings of peace;
Tidings of Jesus, redemption and release.
O God, of all the things we serve, help us to serve you above all of them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Pastor Rick Moser