Tuesday, November 04, 2008

making choices

Election day seems like as good a day as any to consider this week's Old Testament lesson: Joshua (who, in last week's scripture, assumed leadership in the generation after Moses) delivers his farewell address. In it, he sets a clear choice before the people: follow God (the God who brought them out of slavery in Egypt) or serve other would-be gods.

"As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD," he says, in an inspiring call to a better way of living.

My challenge is that, even having proudly cast my ballot in our elections this week, I know that I'm called to something more difficult: casting my life in with God's work in the world.

Joshua dares to make it clear, telling the people exactly what they're going to have to give up. I wonder, if he were to speak to me today, what he would ask me to surrender. I suspect it would be a challenge.

Talitha Arnold, writing in Christian Century nailed me when she wrote: "Had Joshua presided at my ordination, I doubt he would have let me get by with a simple vow to study, pray, teach and preach. He probably would have demanded, 'Will you give up your personal gods of procrastination, perfectionism and the pursuit of trivia?'"

I'm guessing we still have a lot to give up. Greed, selfish individualism, hatred, fear, self-doubt, the belief that we can secure our own futures by accumulating things or building fences, and more.


As we continue to celebrate the season of creation, Joshua's words seem to have new implications. "As for me and my household," he says. As members of the household of God, we're called to be a part of making choices as a society that reflect Jesus' values. Choices that turn away from sin, injustice and oppression and turn us toward one another and God.

We know that this also requires us to make changes in the ways our habits and systems treat creation. Besides the reality that we are harming God's creation, we're also aware that our pollution and destruction of resources harms others in our household. Environmental damage hurts those who have least in our world first--the developing world suffers before we in San Diego suffer.

I wonder what it will mean for us to, again and anew, turn from the gods that have tempted us to destruction, and toward the God who is salvation. What new, big household habits will we need?

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