focal points

Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18

For Sunday, August 23, 2009
Proper 16
Where are the places where the three most significant events of your life happened? For me, one would be my birth in Milwaukee, WI. Another would be my marriage proposal in Wauwatosa, WI. Another would be Irkutsk, Siberia where we served for 10 years as church planters and trainers.
There were significant places in the life of God’s people as well. One of these was Shechem. It is not by accident that Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at this particular place. It was at Shechem that Moses first pitched his tent and built an altar in honor of God’s covenant promise to him and his descendants. It was here that Jacob settled with his family and built a well. In modern times, it was here that Yasser Arafat had his headquarters.
There is something interesting about the geography of this place that seems to parallel what Joshua is doing rhetorically. The entrance to Shechem was only 500 yards wide, bound on the left by Mt. Gerizim, and on the right by Mt. Ebal (Gerizim is listed on the map above, Ebal is the blue square at the far right). Just as the land was brought to a focal point at this particular location, so was Israel’s future: “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. . . But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.”
This is a call for each of us to ask, “Who am I serving, really?” Am I serving Christ, or my career? Am I serving my family, or myself? Am I a fully devoted follower of Christ, or just dabbling? Joshua was very clear about his own commitment: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
There is a special call here for men to rise up and lead their families and households. Men, it starts with us. For the sake of our loved ones and of Christ, let us not fail them.

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