Guess which verse was omitted from this Sunday's lectionary selection from Joshua 24?
A.) I gave you a land on which you had not laboured, and towns that you had not built, and you live in them; you eat the fruit of vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.
B.) ‘Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.
If you selected A, you win the prize.
When I began, I didn't know if this would have anything to do with the rest of today's post. I just happened to like verse A and missed it.
Today our recently ordained deacon, Rick Hanners, gave his first sermon to the congregation of ECOOS. He must have had the jitters because he admittedly read part of last week's Gospel, and in so doing left out the following verses from today's reading from John 6:56-69:
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’
61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you?
62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
64 But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.
65 And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’
66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.
In his sermon, he focused on the last lines of the Gospel for today,
So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’
By keeping the Gospel at the center, Rick got me to thinking of a connection between the missing verses and his sermon. So here is my crack at it, in as few words as possible.
God has given us the Word made flesh, this is the land He has cleared, the vineyard He has planted. We, like the twelve, have a choice. To live in this land of His, as presented in the Gospels, or to seek life elsewhere.
There is another approach people try. Hoping to follow but unwilling to submit to Him, they try to re-write the Word to fit into a land of their own making. This is the path TEC and now the ELCA have taken.
Rick's approach appears to be Gospel centered. So far so good. Now if we can just get him to work on his sermons' length...