Another year has come and gone! Hard to believe, I know! It honestly seems like yesterday that we were preparing for Y2K (and the end of world!). I remember as a kid thinking the year 2000 seemed so far away... and we crossed that bridge 22-years ago now! I’m still waiting on my flying car...
Of course, when it comes to 2021, many are probably thinking, “good riddance!” I mean, wow! These last couple years have been doozies, to say the least!
Others are surely wishing time would slow down, for just a moment, in it’s relentless, ceaseless march. God’s Word speaks of redeeming the time, making the most of the time we’re given - “making the most of every opportunity.”
And the value, the precious nature of time, is often overlooked, until we start counting the days rather than the years. It was Chaucer, 600+ years ago, who said, “Time and tide wait for no man.” The same clock that ushers out the old year, ticks in the new, with unrelenting precision.
But for all of us, the beginning of a new year brings a moment of reflection. Some of us even make “resolutions” – or set goals – that we hope to achieve in the new year. It’s an opportunity to begin afresh... to set things right and start over. That in itself is a blessing, right! Not everyone gets the chance to “re-boot.” Maybe new beginnings are one of our greatest blessings.
And I think, to some degree, that’s what Joshua was trying to help God’s People understand. He was reminding God’s people of the faithfulness of God in the past. He went all the way back to Abraham… calling to mind how God had blessed His People… forming them into a nation. Joshua reminded the people of how God had delivered the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt, bringing His people into the promised land - a land God’s Words says was flowing with “milk and honey” - blessings in other words! God had proven faithful time and time again.
Joshua then did something any good leader should do. He challenged the people! Calling them, “to decide right now… Who you will serve. Will you serve the gods of this world? Or, will you serve the one true God?“
Joshua then makes his public in bold declaration… “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”
Any honest reflection of our own lives, would end in the proclamation, that God is good. He is still faithful to his people. We’re still blessed… Just think for a moment of all the ways God has blessed you and me…
Our physical blessings are obvious. None of us “slept under the stars” without a roof over our heads last night, did we? We’re well dressed... adequately fed. We know where our next meal is coming from... and we have a warm, soft bed... Our needs are met... as are most of our wants! Physically, we’re a blessed people.
But spiritually we’re blessed, too, right? We’re God’s People! We’re the elect, chosen by God as evidenced in our belief and profession of faith in God, through our acceptance of Christ as Lord.
Think about how blessed we are! God intervened at just the right time - becoming human! Emmanuel… The Messiah! God with us! Jesus, was born to save us from our sins and bless us with his life and light. His life literally enlightens our lives... showing us how to live lives are pleasing to God. God knows our plight, because he became one of us. He walked the same paths we walk, experienced the same hopes, and fears, and the very same relentless ticking of the clock.
We spent an awful lot of time on Jesus’ birth, and his resurrection! We carve-out whole Seasons of the year to celebrate, to commemorate the birth and resurrection. As we should.
But because of that (because of our emphasis on the manger and the empty tomb), I sometimes think we forget that Jesus actually lived! He truly lived… calling ordinary people like fishermen and tax collectors, to follow the “way the truth and the life.”
Jesus fed the multitude, and brought healing to the diseased, and life to the dead! He told Nicodemus that he must be born again, of water and the Spirit… in this life… and He offered “living water” to a thirsty woman at the well. He even sat down with his disciples… breaking bread… My body, broken; my blood, shed for you.
And even as Christ gave himself for us… He prayed, “father forgive them.” Telling the thief on the cross, “today you will be with me in paradise.”
And after all of that… He arose, appearing to the disciples… Once and for all finishing the work of redemption and conquering death’s sting and the grave’s finality.
God is good. God is faithful… and God‘s goodness, His faithfulness to us, presents us with a choice. Just as it did to the Hebrew people so very long ago.
You and I can decide to follow and serve this world, we can seek after the “gods” of wealth and power, of popularity and politics and popular opinion… we can choose consumption and materialism. OR, we can decide to serve the God who loved us enough to “humble himself, taking on the very nature of a servant,” and taking on the curse that we deserved, while blessing us with life.
The choice, is ours…
As we begin a brand new year, together… Now is a great time for us to re-affirm our commitment to following and serving the God who has been so faithful to us.
Choose this day whom you will serve… But, as for me and my house, we will serve the lord. Amen.