As for me? - Reflections 8-22-18

Texts for Sunday, August 26, 2018
14th Sunday after Pentecost

Joshua 24:1-2a;14-18
Psalm 34:15-22
Ephesians 6:10-20
John 6:56-69

There are some challenges that I just won’t take on. For example, high ropes courses. They are a standard challenge in preparation for youth ministry as well as in outdoor ministry settings. I get the point. They teach one to face one’s fears as well as to trust in other people (and your harness). It is a challenge I have not taken. It is my road not traveled. I totally embrace my failure. At least now I can say “I’m 64 for the love of Pete…” 
(yes…I am well aware that people older than me still crawl around up in the air…)

These scriptures for Sunday ask us to make a choice. To step up to a challenge. To step off the platform into empty space. In John, people turn away from following Jesus “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”. Joshua stands before the people of God and asks them to “choose this day whom you will serve”.
Note: Jesus and Joshua are essentially the same name. Coincidence? I think not! 

Then Joshua proclaims: "As for me and my household we will serve the Lord."

In my life I have had similarly noble and pious and utterly ridiculous moments regarding my complete loyalty and dedication to being God’s servant. When I confirmed my faith as a teen, I confirmed my faith. As a young adult I used Joshua’s words to declare that God was central to my married life. And I don’t even want to remember the complete certainty in my “loyalty” when I was commissioned and installed right out of seminary. 

Life has become real since then. I can wish that I would serve the Lord alone, but I know my idols. They take up a lot of my energy and attention:  As for me, I will live in comfort and security, guarding my schedule. I will show people only my best side. I will help when it is convenient. I will give if I still have plenty to keep. 

The deities of today are just as attractive as the gods of old. Heck, they are the same gods of old.

Mercifully, God did not give up on the people of Israel when despite their promises, they did not serve wholly. And Jesus did not give up on the disciples who for all intents and purposes disappeared when Jesus was arrested and killed. And God does not give up on me when I refuse those high rope moments in fear and mistrust.

Does that mean I just set it all aside? Of course not. I really do want me and my household to serve the Lord who doesn’t give up on me.  The words Jesus speaks are spirit and life. And occasionally I surprise myself and God by setting aside my idols and authentically follow and serve.

What are the idols that get in your way? What is the first thing that you would need to put aside to follow God? 

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245