Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This morning, we are reading from Chapter 24 of the book of Joshua. This portion is sometimes called the Reaffirmation of the Covenant that God made with Abraham, Moses, and the people. Joshua lists all the things God has done for the people, beginning with Tera, Abraham’s father. The people are reminded that their ancestors once worshiped other Gods, until God called Abraham. This is followed by a retelling of the history of God’s relationship with God’s people—reminding them that it was not by their own actions, but God’s action, that gave them victories and provided food and water in the desert.
Joshua calls the people to reaffirm their faith in God, and pledge, once again, that they are God’s people. Of course, the most memorable line in this reading is, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” This passage can be found on banners, T-shirts, wall plaques, coffee mugs, etc. When I Googled this phrase, I received About 13,100,000 results in 0.58 seconds!
But what exactly does it mean? Especially to our congregation and our community today? And what exactly is serving the Lord? We can get an idea from today’s passage from Matthew, where we hear Jesus say, it is written, “Worship the LORD your God, and serve only him.” Jesus is speaking to the devil, who is tempting Jesus with material things and earthly power. But Jesus says “no” to this temptation to think only of himself. And we will be hearing more about Jesus and service as we read the Gospel of Matthew this year.
But back to my question, “What does it mean for this congregation, in this place, to serve the Lord our God?” The last few years have been hard for many congregations. Some have not survived and some, like our congregation, are struggling to discover what it means to be the church in this time. As we move forward, we will need to find answers to the question, “What does it mean to serve God here and now?” Do not get me wrong. This congregation is already serving God in many ways, through our charitable giving, our donations to the food pantry and Midnight Run among others. And through our largest ministry, The Christian Pre-School.
I believe that we will learn new ways to serve God, here in this almost-post-covid world. It will take all of us thinking and praying to God for guidance, gathering in small groups. And here on Sunday morning keeping in mind that God is with us, praying for guidance together. Individual prayer is also important. And it is something we can all do daily. Don’t be afraid that you won’t say the right words. God will know your intent. Simply open your heart, and ask that God be with us at Dobbs Ferry Lutheran, reminding ourselves that we are God’s beloved children.
Let us pray now. We thank you, Lord, for bringing us together this day. We gather here, asking that you guide us into the future. We know all things come from You. We ask you for courage, patience, and discernment to navigate our new reality. Lift us up with your Holy Spirit when we become discouraged, and keep us ever-mindful of your love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.