Get out your supplies – it’s QUEST JOURNAL makin’ time! PLUS – a Crafty Time Guest Appearance!
May 10, 2020
I remember the longest road trip I had been on. It was the summer of 2002, and I was driving to Indiana from BC to see Shannon. The drive was close to 8000km round trip. It was in the Summer, in a small car with no air conditioning (when that was considered a bonus / luxury feature). I love to drive and explore, so I loved every minute of it. I got to encounter tons of new things, see lots of new states and scenery. I even drove through Chicago for the very 1st time and lived to tell about it (those of you who have driven there know exactly what I mean). The most exciting thing for me was that I knew that at the end of the journey, my girlfriend who I only got to see a few times a year would be waiting.
The longest part was the drive home. In one long day, I drove from a location in Indiana, 2 hours south of Chicago, to Lethbridge AB, just south of Calgary. It was 25 hours straight of driving. I Would never do that now. But I was 20 and invincible. I would have stopped if I could but had no money – even the $39 Motel 6 was too much. I tried stopping to rest in my car at rest areas and truck stops, but I learned something about driving through Minnesota and North Dakota at night. Not only is it humid, but it has big bugs. I had no A/C so I was dripping from sweat inside the car if I tried to sleep. And if I opened the window, who knows what ‘friends’ would crawl in. I was uncomfortable to say the least.
I got an hour here, 30 minutes there for a nap. But kept drinking coffee and driving as much as I could (maybe that is why I like Tim Hortons so much now!). I was eager to get to my relatives in Alberta – to a comfortable bed, to a home cooked meal, to air conditioning. I could see the destination in the distance, but for now was stuck in my car. In my mind, I was asking several times “Are We There Yet?”
A couple weeks ago, looked at how we as the church feel the same right now. The current COVID situation has taken us on a different, inconvenient, and uncomfortable journey. We feel stuck, much like I did in my car with no AC, and big bugs outside. We have been on a long trip (because of quarantine, social distancing, closures), and we just want to get out. We hear the governments talking of a gradual opening, and we can’t wait. But unlike me where I knew where I was going, we don’t.
We know life will be different for everyone after all this, and what the church looks like is no exception. The problem is that we don’t know what this ‘different’ will look like. And that is unsettling to us pastors, to MC, to you as the congregation. Yet, there are some core values that are the same no matter where we find ourselves as a church and what is going on around us. We have a vision and we have a mission that God has called us on, even for such a time as this.
As HMC, we believe we are called to be “Generations Following Jesus Together”. We do this as we “Gather, Grow, Give, and Go”. Over the next several weeks, I want to unpack this more in light of our changing world around us. A couple weeks ago, I started talking about the Gather part, the importance of community. I said that “Practical faith happens in community”. Today, want to spend a bit more time talking about the importance of “Gather” – the need for community. And how:
Authentic community requires intentional participation
The church was designed, not to be a building where people meet, but an authentic community who can meet in a building, or today is meeting online; a community who can meet at any time and any place. But in order for the church to be an authentic community, as God designed it, there needs to be buy in, or investment in it. The church family without participation is not authentic community – just a disconnected, dysfunctional gathering of people.
Why should we intentionally become an authentic community?
- God created the church with community in mind
-> There are three different potential applications here to “On this rock”. Not going to unpack them today. But later in this series I want to.
-> Notice one word… on this rock I will build _ church….
-> The church belongs to God, and He builds it. Takes the pressure off of us. Not about our methods, philosophies, wisdom, assumptions, ideas. It has to be about what God wants!
-> First time this term “church” is used in the Bible. And it is Jesus who is speaking of an entity, something He is about to create. A very specific Greek word is used here that goes beyond a light suggestion or casual implication of what the church was to be.
Ekklesia: A gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public space, an assembly. In a Christian sense, an assembly of Christ followers gathered for worship. Root words imply being specifically called out to a different purpose. Implication is that God calls us out specifically to be His community, His church, His family.
-> When we look through the pages of the NT, whenever the word “Ekklesia”/Church is used, it is referring to the group of believers as they come together as a community. It is not referring to individual, fragmented, isolated life apart from the rest of the church community. The church has always been a gathering.
-> The church isn’t what we do, it is who we are when we gather…..
-> Authentic community requires intentional participation. This appears to be what God had in mind when the church was created and named. He created the church with community in mind.
Rom 12:3-8, 1 Cor 12:12-28
- We find our purpose within the church community.
-> Both these passages describe something called “the body” that those who follow Christ were a part of. The word used in the original Greek manuscripts was:
Soma: Describes a grouping (small or large) of people who are closely united into one society or family, and in the NT, the church.
-> All who follow Christ are part of a body that is both global – meaning that we are united with all those who follow Jesus around the world – and a local expression.
-> The church is the place on a local level where that family / body identity finds
realization and purpose.
-> It is within this community that each one of us is given gifts, abilities, skills that this community body needs to function to the fullest. Meant to be used and find fulfillment in this community / family.
-> When we do not plug in, we deprive ourselves and the church community of the full potential available. When we do intentionally participate, we and the church are able to become a life giving, life changing, vibrant authentic community where we find purpose and connection.
-> Like the passage says, we need each other, just like the body needs all its’ parts.
-> Authentic community requires intentional participation. We find our purpose within the church community.
- The church community was intended to be at the centre of daily life
-> Often times, the church community has adopted a tendency to be separate from life in general. We are pretty good at compartmentalizing.
-> The church community becomes just something we have to do. Not influential, not important, not a priority.
-> What happens when the church community becomes compartmentalized is that it becomes irrelevant. When it isn’t a part of our general daily life, it loses its impact in any of our life.
-> Yet this is not what Jesus intended when He designed His church – the community of His followers who were a united body, who needed each other to function, to find fulfillment in the setting of gathering together. He intended His church to be at the center of daily life.
-> We see this as we go through the New Testament and look at all the ways in which the church was intended to be a part of daily life.
-> By no means an exhaustive list. Go home today and google “one another verses in New Testament”. I also likely have a list that I will post this week online. And not going to unpack these today. But gives you an idea.
Where needs were met: Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-35
Where disputes were settled: 1 Cor 6:1-6
Where support was given: 1 Cor 12:26, Gal 6:2
Where encouragement was received: 1 Thess 5:11, Heb 10:24-25
Where accountability was offered: James 5:16
Where prayer together happened: James 5:13-15
-> This is just a snapshot of all the daily things of life in which Jesus intends for His church (us) to rise up, live, and function together as a community, as a family. The church community was intended to be at the centre of daily life. But in order for this to happen, authentic community requires intentional participation. You need to want to plug in, to be involved, to identify here.
COVID 19 has completely changed the landscape of the church, and how we function. Community life has now, for the most part, gone online. The physical gathering we used to enjoy doesn’t happen. We aren’t getting together in each others’ homes. We aren’t getting together here at the church building. Our interactions with each other are a lot more limited as today, I really don’t have much of an idea who is watching unless you post in here (and even so, I am not able to pay attention to those things). For me it has been difficult as I don’t get to see you all at the door when you are leaving. I don’t get to see your faces, hear your voices. It is a different world.
In some ways, this has been a change that has been long overdue. For a long time, our culture and society has been online, and the church has been resisting the push to get online. Now, because of COVID, we have been forced to go online. And it has given us cause to re-evaluate a lot of what we do and how we do it. What things actually matter and make a difference? What things don’t? What we do know is that we will continue, even as things shift to allow us to be open, to provide an online presence for HMC in addition to the physical gatherings that we will be running.
With COVID, a lot of us have gotten used to not having to leave the comforts of our house to join into any of the church life. Sundays are super casual now. Being able to watch church from the living room, not have to be dressed to leave the house. And if you sleep in, you can watch it later. Everything else is online. And potentially, you could take in a whole week full of stuff here at the church and never have to physically see anyone (minus on a screen). And take it in when it is convenient. There is a lot of convenience now to how we do our church community gatherings – out of necessity.
As we look ahead though, I want to encourage us, when the regulations lift, to fight the urge to stay isolated and disconnected in our homes. Yes, it is convenient, but we are also missing out on the authentic and life changing community that we were designed to be a part of. We need to invest intentionally in our family. Authentic community requires participation.
Being online can not replace physical connection, no matter how hard we try. A family needs to be more than just a virtual family in order to grow deeper. And as we become more isolated in our homes, not participating in the community, the harder it is for us as a community to live intentionally, as a community on mission together in our communities. As cool as being online is, it leads to us being even more disconnected to each other in this community, and to the larger community in which we live.
Gathering can be anywhere, at any time. It doesn’t have to be Sunday at 10am. It can be in your own home with a dozen others. It can be any time of day, over a meal even. And who knows… maybe this will be the catalyst for us launching a whole bunch of home based churches tied into HMC. I dream…. But however we do it, gathering needs to happen. And it needs our intentional participation. We need to pursue authentic community together.
And of course, if you have never met Jesus personally, never started a personal relationship with Him, He invites you to know Him, love Him, and follow Him. He invites you to become a part of His family, His community, and experience belonging on a spiritual level. A deeper purpose, a deeper connection. If that is you and you want to know more, any of us here on staff would love to be able to help you more with that so that you can experience being a part of the life changing community and family that He has designed us for.
1 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 c melted butter
1/2 c flour
1/3 c cocoa
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
(mix, pour into greased 8-inch pan, add anything fun that you feel like adding to the top, cook 350 for 20-30 minutes or until done.)
REREAD the big story
JOSHUA 6:1-14 (Previous bedtime story: FALL of JERICHO) Characters: YAHWEH, Joshua, Achan, the King of Ai
REVIEW the context
Joshua and the Israelites had witnessed the impossible once more. Jericho had crumbled before their very eyes – without even a single pebble thrown! But their excitement became their folly. They rushed into battle, attempting to sack the city of Ai, but never consulted the Lord. Had Joshua prayed, he would have discovered sin in the camp. Achan had stolen cursed treasure from Jericho’s rubble. And because of his sin, Israel was defeated at Ai. It was a mistake Joshua would not make again.
REENTER through the 2nd story
a REIMAGINING of Joshua 8:1-23
‘BAHA!’ The king of Ai shouted from the city walls. ‘Look at those pesky Israelites! They attempt our city a second time! Well – we shall meet them on the fields of battle and not only defeat them, we will wipe them and their God from this earth!’ The king turned to his general. ‘Gather every person from the city. Everyone. Open the gates! We will kill the Israelites where they stand!’ The gates of Ai opened and the army stormed out, shouting and hollering a cry of victory. The king followed on horseback and motioned to the people of the city. ‘Everyone come,’ he called, ‘and watch Yahweh be destroyed under the sun!’
Joshua looked on at a distance, crouched and silent, his javelin tight in hand. God’s plan was in motion. Only a small portion of Joshua’s army met the king outside the city. The rest of Joshua’s army lay around the hillside on the ground and unseen. An ambush was in order.
‘Wait,’ Joshua whispered to his men. ‘Wait until they are far clear of the gates!’
The king of Ai rode further onto the grassy plain until his troops surrounded the small band of Israelite soldiers. ‘You fools!’ The king’s mocking voice echoed through the valley. ‘The mighty and powerful god Baal fights for us! You are no match for his vengeance! Today – both you and your God will die!’ The king drew out his sword, ‘Attack!’ he shouted. The soldiers of Ai rushed to the Israelites and the Israelites fled as fast as their feet could run, drawing their foe farther and farther from the city.
Joshua looked on. ‘Wait,’ he said. ‘Almost… A little farther… just a little bit farther. NOW!’ Joshua jumped to his feet and hoisted his javelin into the air. ‘NOW!’ he yelled. ‘Armies of Yahweh! Attack!’ Joshua’s army leapt to their feet and ran toward the gates of Ai. The king of Ai heard Joshua’s call and stopped dead in his path. He turned in shock. ‘No!’ he said. ‘The gates! My city!’ But it was too late. Joshua and his army stormed the city of Ai through the front door and set the city ablaze. Thick black smoke billowed over its walls. In moments, the city had been destroyed and the battle was over.
Joshua emerged from the fiery gates with his javelin still high above his head. His face charred and spotty with soot. His walk was brisk and confident. ‘Yahweh lives.’ he said. ‘The battle belongs to our Lord.’
RETHINK in sacred sharing
Spend some time in sacred reflection, conversation, and listening. Use the following questions as a guide.
Q: Name a time when your actions affected someone else for the worse.
Q: KIDS: Why did the Israelites lose the battle of Ai on their first try? And can you explain Joshua’s strategy for capturing the city of Ai on their second try?
Q: Sin is not really a topic that gets a lot of attention anymore. How would you describe sin?
Q: What are natural consequences of sin?
Q: What did God mean when He told Joshua: ‘The people of Israel can no longer look their enemies in the eye!’
Q: What is salvation? Can you name a time when you experienced redemption from sin?
Q: How has Jesus saved you from sin?
RECREATE in sacred play
Spend some time in sacred play recreating the second attack on the city of Ai. Below are a list of props, characters, ideas to use your space, and a general flow-of-the-story.
COSTUMES/PROPS: Joshua’s javelin/spear, swords, the city walls of Ai and its workable gate.
CHARACTERS: Characters can be divided.
KIDS: Joshua and the army of Israel (2 halves!)
ADULTS: The king of Ai and his soldiers.
SPACE: Set up the space to resemble the ancient city of Ai (use pillows and couches) and the grassy plains (a big open space between). The city must have a working gate (cushion, box, or blanket) and the walls of the city must be strong!
FLOW: Divide the army of Israel into two halves. One half of Joshua’s army will wait on the grassy plain for the king of Ai. When the king of Ai chooses, he/she will open the gates and attack Joshua’s army. The other half of Joshua’s army must sneak behind, through the city gate, and shout ‘VICTORY!’ before being caught by the king! But if the king touches either army – he/she wins! Swap roles! Play again!
REMAKE in a sacred meal
In just a few short weeks, the Israelites had both won over Jericho and had been defeated at Ai. They tasted both the sweetness of victory, and the bitterness of loss. Taste is often defined in similarly polarizing terms: sweet or sour, salty or un-salty, bland or spicy.
CHALLENGE: Alongside your Sunday meal, spread out an array of opposite foods: sweet and sour, salty and un-salty, bland and spicy! No matter your preference, taste and savour each flavour and note life’s victories and defeats!
RESPOND in sacred prayer
Joshua rushed the attack on Ai and lost because he failed to recognize the sin in his own camp. As Israel’s leader, Joshua did not take time to confess any sins that he or his tribe had. In this case, confession was not only good for the soul – but it was necessary. Where do you need to make things right before God? What do you need to confess?
Find a spot to be alone in your home. Somewhere quiet, but not overly comfortable. Pray and ask the Spirit to illuminate areas of your life that you need to confess. Then, if you feel led, have a moment of confession as a tribe.
New International Version
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
In My Weakness, I am Strong
2 Cor 12:5-10
May 5th, 2020
We love a good show of physical strength. There is something entertaining and exciting watching people push their bodies to the absolute limit in an act of strength and ability. We celebrate physical strength as a society and reward it. If you don’t agree with me, think about that the next time you are watching sports, or the Olympics, or the next episode of one of those talent shows where the person auditioning is hanging from a trapeze bar by one hand 40 ft in the air while having their athletic partner holding on to them by their leg. Or how about the next time we see on TV those really strong guys competing for the ‘ultimate strong man’ championship, singlehandedly pulling a school bus. Or the next time we watch an ironman competition.
There is something entertaining about watching people push their physical bodies to the absolute limit, and in a sign of personal physical strength, accomplish something amazing. And we celebrate it!
What if life isn’t about what we can do, but what we can’t? What if it is actually okay to be weak?
I am coming more and more to the realization these days that I need to be okay being weak. This life, on its own, is hard. I won’t be able to figure out everything, beat everything, avoid everything, or manage everything on my own. At the end of the day, I am actually very weak. This is why I need someone to be strong for me.
God doesn’t need our strength – He needs our trust.
This morning, I want to share with you an instance in Scripture where embracing weakness actually produced greater strength. We will see how God doesn’t need our strength – He needs our trust.
Read 2 Corinthians 12:5-10
Verse five starts off as if it were a part of a larger conversation and context. If we were to read the preceding five verses, we would see Paul, talking in 3rd person about a vision that he had. It was a magnificent, astonishing and indescribable vision of something called the third heaven. All he can say is that it was astounding and beyond anything he could describe.
He goes on to say that he could boast about this experience. He could wear it as a personal badge of honour of what he experienced, and how God chose to reveal this to him. It would give him a platform to pat himself on the back, but he chooses not to boast as it would profit nothing. He did not want to cause people to give him undue credit and recognition beyond what they can plainly see in his life. He realized that His life wasn’t about all the things He saw or did, it was about how the message of Jesus changed him – and only that was boast worthy. Instead he is choosing to boast in his weakness.
He then talks about a thorn in the flesh that was permitted to bother him to keep him reminded of his weakness and keep him humble, rather then boasting about these visions that he saw. What was the thorn in the flesh? And where did it come from? There are some varying views on the definition. We don’t even fully know what it was. It is somewhat fascinating to look at the possibilities, what ever you may think:
- A figurative, spiritual / emotional thorn: As he talks about this thorn, a messenger of satan is mentioned. There is the thought that this could be an oppression that he was going through; possibly a discouragement, stress, rejection, or loneliness.
- A physical suffering
- It could appear that a literal physical body referred to: the word flesh = Sarx (in the original Greek)– it refers to the physical nature of man as subject to suffering; in other words, a physical body. The word Torment / harass/ buffet = kolaphizo (in the Greek)- which means to strike a physical item with the fist, to maltreat or treat with violence.
- Paul references health concerns elsewhere: In Gal 4:13-14 he is talking about being sick, so much so that the people could have been tempted to reject him. There is speculation (while not proven) among many scholars that he actually potentially had something called “chronic ophthalmia” which is a disease that affects the eye. More than that, it causes weakness, illness, and even physical disfiguring. We do not have hard proof, but some scholars believe this could have been the case. 2 Cor 10:10 talks about how his physical presence in person is physically weak, and in Gal 4:15 he references his eye problem and how the church would have given him their eyes if they could have.
- It is important to remember that this thorn was not a result of Paul being disobedient. There was no wrong doing on his part that resulted in this. We live in a broken world impacted by sin, and often, things we may face that are unpleasant and difficult come naturally because of the brokenness around us. Yet God chose to use this as an opportunity to change Paul’s perspective.
Whatever the actual thorn was, it leaves us with a picture and a reminder: Paul was just a mere man who was subject to the same trials and weaknesses we are. He prayed three times that God would take away his personal weakness, yet God declines. Instead, what God essentially says is (my paraphrase):
Stop pursuing what you think you need, and allow my grace to be all you need. Not until you choose to accept that you are weak and cant do it in your own strength can my strength be perfect for you.
Paul realizes pretty fast that God doesn’t need our strength – He needs our trust. This is why he could actually be content and push on, even though he had this ‘thorn’ in his flesh. Even though he was suffering heavily and would face difficulty the rest of his life, he could be content because he knew that his strength was not enough to sustain him, but God’s would be. And all the marvelous, powerful, and praiseworthy things he had seen and experienced in his life were not from himself or his strength, but from God. They were a gift from Him.
Paul had a perspective change – that God doesn’t need our strength – He needs our trust. It wasn’t about what Paul could do, or had done, or what He had experienced. It was okay for Paul to be weak, to be nothing. He didn’t have to boast in himself. It was about the goodness and power of God at work in and through his life that was worth celebrating.
God doesn’t need our strength – He needs our trust.
What are our weaknesses? Are we boasting in all the things we have done or think we will do? Is it all about us? Or is it all about what God can and will do through us if we get the ‘strength show’ out of the way? Are you okay to be weak, to not have all the answers, to not be all to everyone, to not be able to do all things? Are you okay to live in a place where you feel the heaviness of life? Where you feel completely inadequate?
It is in our place of inability and understanding that / coming to terms with it that we can embrace that God doesn’t need our strength – He needs our trust. And when we trust Him, and let Him do what He does, His strength becomes perfect in our lives, and we can move beyond the inability, the heaviness, the weakness of today and be who God is calling us to be. We have to be reliant on Him.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
I hope this update finds everyone healthy and safe. It has been a few weeks since I reached out to all of you, so I wanted to make sure I checked in and filled you in on a few happenings here at HMC.
We are on TV
We are thrilled to be able to announce that we will be on TV weekly, broadcasting past services here at HMC to allow those who can not watch us online an opportunity to tune in. As well, we see this as another way that we can share the hope of Jesus with our larger community.
You can catch our services every Saturday night, at 7 pm on Wightman Channel 6.
Thanks to all of you who have been giving to HMC during this time. I know that for many, these are difficult times financially, yet I am thankful for your generous giving during this time. We are thankful that God has been providing for us, and through your generous giving, has been taking care of our needs. We are truly blessed to find ourselves in a place of relative financial stability. I want to thank you again as it is because of your joyful and sacrificial giving that we are stable.
As the summer months approach, and giving traditionally drops, I ask you to please remember HMC and consider how you can help us continually meet our monthly expenses and help us continue to do ministry in Hanover and area.
Even though we can praise God for being in a relatively stable financial position as a church, we are mindful that we also need to be wise with the finances we have, especially in these challenging times. With that in mind, all ministry spending has been limited to essential spending that is necessary for us to carry out the present ministry needs of the church. Ministry Council has also discussed a multi-step plan of how to manage our expenses should our income from giving see a significant drop. It is our desire to be responsible with what God has given us.
In the last update, I announced that we had launched a benevolence fund so that we could be a blessing in our community and meet the needs of those around us as the needs arise. I thank you to all of you who have given so far. If you would like to give to the benevolence fund, over and above your regular giving, you can do so through Tithe.ly (as there is a benevolence fund designation), or through a designation on your offering envelope that is dropped off.
Do you need anything?
We want to make sure that we are caring for you as a church family, keeping you connected in what is going on, and helping you feel like you are a part of a family even in this time of isolation.
If you have any needs, please let us know at the church. We would love to talk to you and help you any way we can in this time. If you know of someone who is not connected to HMC but is in need, let us know as well.
As always, make sure you stay connected with us online and through email updates. If you know of someone who needs these updates, but is not on the internet, and is not already getting our regular mailings, please let us know in the office so that we can put them on the list.
When can we begin using our facility again?
The truth of the situation is that we do not know the answer to this. Things are changing daily, and at this point, we are following the lead of our government. At this point, the protocol continues to be no gatherings over 5 people, and strict social distancing measures. Looking at the plan put forward to gradually open our province, the lifting on gatherings is one of the last things to be lifted.
Because of all the uncertainty, we will no longer be putting a date projection as to when we will be back in our building. With things changing daily, it seems prudent to take a wait and see approach. Plan on things continuing as they presently are for the near future. We are continually evaluating our situation, and as things change, we will be sharing that with you.
Know that we as a staff team miss all of you. We look forward to seeing you back. We pray for you and think of you all often. If there is any way we can care for you in this time, do not hesitate to reach out.
On behalf of all of us here,
REREAD the big story
JOSHUA 6:1-14 (Previous bedtime story: Crossing the Jordan River) Characters: YAHWEH, Joshua, the Levites, the Israelites
REVIEW the context
Joshua had sent spies into the city of Jericho to scout out the scene in advance of their entry into Canaan. One major hurdle remained: the Jordan River. In peak flood season, the river was uncrossable. Local Canaanites believed the flooding river to be judgement from the gods and Baal, their chief god, was only the one to possess power over it. That is, until Yahweh showed up, stopped the river, and allowed his people to cross on dry ground. The people in Jericho were terrified and waited for Yahweh’s next move.
REENTER through the 2nd story
a REIMAGINING of Joshua 6:16-25
‘When will that infernal noise cease?!’ A Canaanite soldier shook his head in distress. ‘I can’t handle another second of that trumpet blasting!’ The captain looked down his line of soldiers. ‘Stand firm! You serve the king of Jericho and our god Baal! We will defend this wall with our lives. Don’t be afraid of these trumpet blowers! Look at them! You can’t take hold of a city by just marching around it! Get a grip!’ But the words fell on deaf ears, for across the wall of Jericho there was a great stirring of unrest among the troops. For seven days the Israelites had marched around Jericho. For seven days the city gates had been shut. Seven days they waited, and wondered, when Yahweh – the God who stopped the Jordan – would show up and attack Jericho.
Far below the city walls the soldiers of Israel were on the move. The priests were at the head of the line, blowing their trumpets, breath in and breath out, all day long. The Ark of the Covenant followed, glistening like a bright star in the noon-day sun. The soldiers of Israel, at the rear, marched in silence. They looked neither right nor left, only forward, and there was not a whisper of conversation among them. Marching, marching, marching. One, two, three, four, five, six times around the gates.
Joshua stood on a high place overseeing the operation. He looked down to his guard with a smile. ‘We’ve almost done it,’ he said. ‘One more pass and, oh, armies of Israel, you will see God do wonders among you.’ Finally, Joshua could see the Ark of the Covenant rounding the turn and passing the city gates for the seventh, and last, time. Joshua grabbed his tribal flag of Ephraim. He hoisted the flag over his head and waved it high for the whole of the army to see. The Ark stopped. The army stood still, surrounding the walls in every direction. ‘Today!’ Joshua called out. ‘God has given you this city! Now shout – army of Yahweh! Shout! For God has given you the city!’
The priests blew the ram’s horn, and in an instant, the entire army shouted in a single deafening cry. The earth shook – snapped – and cracked. And in a moment, the walls of Jericho split like a tinder and collapsed at once. ‘Take the city!’ Joshua cried. ‘Save Rahab and her family! Everything else is God’s!’ Without hesitation, the Israelites drew their swords and rushed into the city. Dust and blood filled the air. The city of Jericho was destroyed. Joshua’s called out again, ‘Take no treasure for yourself! It is God’s!’
RETHINK in sacred sharing
Spend some time in sacred reflection, conversation, and listening. Use the following questions as a guide.
Q: Name a time you experienced a significant breakthrough.
Q: KIDS: how do you think the soldiers of Jericho felt about Joshua’s strategy and plan of attack? Why did the Israelites march around the city for a whole week?
Q: Have you ever felt silly obeying God? Have you ever been misunderstood by people around you?
Q: Is there a problem in your life that you can’t, or shouldn’t, resolve on your own? What is Jesus instructing you to do?
Q: As we look to the future, what strongholds or ‘fortifications’ need to be broken within our culture?
RECREATE in sacred play
Spend some time in sacred play recreating the fall of Jericho! Below are a list of props, characters, ideas to use your space, and a general flow-of-the-story.
COSTUMES/PROPS: Ram’s horns! (*see Crafty Time video), swords, Ark of the Covenant (box on sticks), the wall of Jericho (stacked boxes, cushions, or pillows), treasure (or candy) inside the city!
CHARACTERS: Characters can be divided.
KIDS: Joshua, the priests, the army of Israel.
ADULTS: the king and people of Jericho.
SPACE: Set up the space to resemble the ancient city of Jericho (push together two couches!) Your city walls must be able to collapse!
FLOW: Joshua led the army of Israel towards the city of Jericho. The seven priests and their horns were in front, followed by the Ark of the Covenant and the soldiers. On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times. After the seventh pass, the ram’s horn blew! The people shouted! And the walls of Jericho came a-tumbling down! Joshua commanded the city to be taken, but the treasure to be left for God!
REMAKE in a sacred meal
The Israelites crossed the Jordan River and had their final manna-bread-and-quail meal! From that moment, they only ate from the land! Just imagine, if after 40 years of bread and meat, how delicious the fresh fruits and veg of Canaan would have tasted!
CHALLENGE: Make a spectacularly fresh salad sourced entirely from local produce! Make a garden salad, a fruit salad, a spring mix, or all of the above! Give thanks for spring and for God’s bounty!
RESPOND in sacred prayer
God did the spectacular by drying up the Jordan River. But even past mighty deeds can be forgotten in times of trouble. Before their march on Jericho, Joshua had 12 leaders from the 12 tribes take a stone from the river and build an altar of remembrance. ‘Tell your children what God has done!’ (Joshua 4).
Go outside for a prayerful walk. On route, have each family member look for a ‘stone of significance.’ Find a tranquil and reflective spot to stop and build a monument of remembrance. Stack your stones one on top of the other and share aloud your stories of God’s mighty deeds. Give thanks for His goodness!