Sunday, August 26, 2012

Choose This Day (Sermon 8/26)

Joshua 24:1–2a, 14–18; John 6:56-69

If, on a morning, I open my eyes,
My first decision thereupon lies.

Will I continue to lie in the bed,
Allowing my thoughts to run through my head?

Will I get up and go to the shower,
Regardless of both weather and hour?

What of my child, who may want me to stay?
What of the tasks that call me this day?

From the minute of waking, there are choices to make,
What will I give today? What will I take?

I want to be saintly and say my first thoughts are of God,
But sometimes they’re not and, in that, I’m not odd.

We may rise with the sun or maybe at noon,
And we make hasty promises to get with God soon.

Yet, that instant, a choice has been made-
The balance of time against God has been weighed.

We can’t do it all. Surely God understands.
Consider this: did not God make this world, its demands?

But in each thing we choose, and it is choose we must
We have decided in which god we shall trust.

When we make decisions for work or for pleasure,
With money or time, talents or leisure,

With each small decision we leave or we make,
We are choosing a god for each task’s sake.

When Joshua says, “Choose this day whom you’ll serve.
My household and I, from God we’ll not swerve.”

He means the God of justice and freedom,
The God who through the desert did lead them.

This is a God of providence, of mercy and manna
Compared to others, God proved top banana.

For the Israelites, Joshua clearly lays out a decision,
Because they had, in history, treated God with derision.

Sometimes God seemed so far and so distant,
They struggled to find God’s mercy consistent.

Yet, who gave the manna? Who gave the quail?
Who brought forth the water when the people did wail? 

“People of Israel,” Joshua said,
“Turn all that you’ve known ‘round in your head.

Think of the guidance through both day and night,
Think of God’s grace. Think of God’s might.”

The people responded, “Our choice has been made.
We’ve looked around. Only Yahweh makes grade.

Only one God can say, ‘I am who I am’
Only one God would work for our father, Abraham.”

So Israelites promised to serve God whatever may come,
For richer, for poorer, when happy, when glum.

The years passed, however, and memories faded.
People thought of this choice and became jaded.

The desert, the manna- they all became history.
What God’s doing now… that became mystery.

It became easier to feel freed by law and instruction,
Only society’s rules prevented destruction.

But that structure left some people wanting,
The gift of the law could seem rather daunting.

When onto the scene, this man Jesus appeared.
Some people rejoiced. Some people jeered.

Then, and again, he talked about bread
About life here right now and life after we’re dead.

He healed sick people, he fed many others,
But his teaching confused both sisters and brothers.

What was this about flesh to eat, blood to drink?
A hard teaching to swallow, most people did think.

Said his disciples, “Jesus, this is enough.
What you’re teaching- it’s too much. It’s too tough.

We don’t like it. We don’t understand.
We’d like to quit you, but it doesn’t seem that we can.

We’ve looked around as to where we might go.
The problem is, there’s some truth we do know.

Within a world of struggle and strife,
You have the words of eternal life.

Only you have offered hope in the future,
Between God and us, you are the suture.

Even though it is hard to stay,
We cannot leave you or your way.”

The disciples decided (or most of them did)
It was with Jesus that they placed their bid.

They decided, as their ancestors had,
To be on God’s side couldn’t be bad.

And so I say to you this day…
“Wait, Pastor Julia, I’ve something to say…”

“What is it, my child, what bothers you so?”
“Well, you’ve confused me. And so I must know

I thought God chose us. I thought it was done.
I thought the war’s over. The fight had been won.

Didn’t Luther write we’d never say yes…
Without God’s Spirit, we can’t acquiesce!

If you tell us, ‘Today you must choose’
Are you not setting us up… to lose?”

You are right, my child, in every way.
And yet you made a choice today.

You came to be here, to be in communion
To pray, to eat, to embody reunion.

Each day, we see gods far and near.
We can worship success. We can give over to fear.

We can spend our resources or over-honor our kin,
We can reverence our bodies from our toe to our chin.

We can make work our idol, honored, adored.
We can seek that which gives immediate reward.

But in the end, it all fails. It all becomes dust.
These idols- they fade, they die, they rust.

In the end, what we want is something that lasts,
Something that goes beyond all other forecasts.

What can bring order to confusion and strife?
Only the hope of eternal life.

Eternal life, both for there and for here.
A growing, a knowing, a ridding of fear.

This is what Jesus offers- in body and blood.
Without that promise, bread and wine are just mud.

Like us, they’re from dust and to dust shall return,
But through eating and drinking, still we can learn

That God has chosen in creation’s favor,
The presence of Christ is what we savor

When we gather at table, both willing and able
To experience Jesus as truth and not fable.

To trust, to be open, is the choice we must make,
Each day, in the moment right when we wake.

In every moment, we choose a god to serve
With all that we have, each sinew and nerve.

We have a God on the side of all of creation,
Who knows and who loves without cessation.

Who gives us each talents and gives us each gifts,
Who forgives our sins, who mends our rifts.

Who with body and blood has chosen to feed us.
Who through valleys and o’er mountains, has chosen to lead us.

Lord, where could we go? You made us, you know us.
Now, through the Spirit, continue to grow us.

God has called you by name, so as your fear eases,
Choose your god. Every day. I recommend… Jesus. 



Jules said...

You preach like a boss!

I absolutely love, love, love this. If I ever get another preaching gig, I'm stealing the idea--and giving you credit, of course.

Amy+ said...

You rock - this is greatness! I wish I could have been a congregant getting to hang on the words this morning!

Diane M. Roth said...

what Jules said! simply awesome!

Jules said...

Also, if David Rakoff had written sermons... :)

Jennifer said...

I loved every word. Thank you!

Rev SS said...

WOW! I LOVE this!