The Parish of Lachute

Part of the Diocese of Montreal

Articles

2011-10-30 Holy Communion

Sunday, October 30, 2011  Pentecost 20

Joshua 3:7-17 – orders for the Ark of the Covenant to lead Israel; God will do a great miracle; the people shall know that God is with Joshua as God was with Moses; the nation crossed the Jordan when it was stopped by the presence of the Ark.

Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37 - the Lord preserved the nation in the wilderness and settled them in a rich land.

1 Thess 2:9-13 – Paul's evangelism style allowed the Thess to hear the pure Word of God.

Matthew 23:1-12 – Pharisees are used as an example of hypocrisy and pride; neither are attributes of a true disciple of Christ; humility is the desired way of life.

"By this you shall know that among you is the living God"

Among You is the Living God

Pray with me. May the words of my lips and the meditations in all our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our Strength and our redeemer. Amen.

Joshua was the successor to Moses, blessed by Moses hands, and presumably acclaimed by the nation of Israel. As the annointed one, Joshua represents God to Israel and Israel to God. In this event, we are informed of the conversation between God and Joshua as well as Joshua's orders to the tribes of Israel. They make their preparations in a camp near the Jordan River. The river is in flood, the one time of the year when you cannot ford it easily.

The orders are clear, the tribes of Israel are to follow behind the Ark of the covenant, a respectful distance of 2000 cubits or 3000 ft or 1000 yds., i.e. about a km. By the time the masses reach the river, it is fordable, for the waters have backed up. While the priests stand in the dry riverbed, bearing the Ark, the entire body of Israel pass across in safety.

You must be struck by the similarity to the crossing of the waters by the Moses - led Israel at the beginning of the Exodus. The crossings are like bookends to mark the start and the end of their pilgrimage. The Lord has indeed done wonders among Israel. The passage is a sign that God is with Israel as they occupy the land of Caanan.

"By this you shall know that among you is the living God"

The Greeks of Thessaloniki have not been given a clear signal that God is with them. Paul was hounded by Jews and others in what we now call Greece, but he persevered in his evangelism. Paul preached a clear message and lived an upright life to inspire this fledgling church. "You remember," he wrote. They remember the words and the personal devotion. They didn't see a parting of waters, or the risen Christ, yet they believed. They accepted the Gospel preached by Paul as God's word. It was "not as a human word, but as what it really is, God's word."

"By this you shall know that among you is the living God"

Signs that God is among you are as numerous as the stars and are as scarce as hen's teeth. It has been some time since I crossed a river with dry feet, but I had that experience when I opened and read the report from PWRDF enclosed in the October Anglican Journal. It is a glossy sheet which highlights a few of its ministries and presents a financial statement. The first sign of God's presence is that over two thirds of the revenue comes from Anglicans, from individuals and parishes across Canada. There are contributions from all thirty dioceses, from the distant Keewatin to the populous Toronto. You are part of this grand gesture. The second sign of God's presence is the handful of project summaries inside. They range from a Centre for Women's Rights in a violent area of Mexico to family clinics in Tanzania to a skills training program in Pakistan to help rebuild infrastructure following devastating floods. None of the donors knew how their dollar was going to be spent, or where, except in the special funds for natural disasters, yet they responded to their faith that God is amongst them.

"By this you shall know that among you is the living God"

We are gathered here, this morning, with a common purpose, to proclaim our individual faith and to uphold the faith of those around us. The fact that God's Spirit has gathered this body together is one more sign to you that God is among God's people. If you were floating on a platform high above Lachute, looking down, you would see a number of individuals turning off the sidewalk, going up the stairs and through the red doors. That gathering, that flow of person, is a sign as strong and important as the crossing of the Jordan River. You as the observer would not know the force that draws the people here each Sunday, just that there is an attraction. That is a sign.

"By this you shall know that among you is the living God"

A final sign for this morning, not a 'final' sign. You, collectively, are the body of Christ. This one collective, this church, acts in the world and in so doing shows that God is amongst us. Many such churches gathered this weekend at Synod to receive direction and offer support for ministries that perhaps we don't know or understand, but which are named as needy and worthy. You may be familiar with some of the names, Action Refugée, Tyndale-St. George. This body of Christ, in approving the Dioceson budget, agreed to support these ministries. This body of Christ can act as one in other ministries as well, creating new signs.

"By this you shall know that among you is the living God"

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