Memories, Miracles, and Mission

by | Apr 28, 2024 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor Jim McCaslin

Scripture: Joshua 4

Memory is one of the key themes in the Fourth Chapter of Joshua. The chapter has God’s mighty acts in it, and it clearly shows that these miracles are done for the purpose of supporting his mission of proclaiming his saving grace to all the peoples of the world. Although the crossing of the Jordan is presented as a miracle, the emphasis is not so much on the events themselves, but on remembering the significance of these events. He told all the people that this would be a sign for them and that in the future when their children asked them what the stones meant, they should tell them that the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord so that the nation of Israel could pass over on dry ground just as God did when the Israelites crossed over the Red Sea. The stones were to serve as a memorial forever so that all the peoples of the earth would know that the Lord is mighty. God’s people have sadly needed frequent reminders that he has work for us to do, so the Lord gives us memorials and miracles to help us focus on our mission of proclaiming his Good News. We need to remember where we’ve come from and what we’ve been through, the hard times and the good times, our own miracles and how God has provided for us every step of the way.



Well good evening ah this mic is working well I guess you have noticed that when David and Chuck preach they take the high road Pulpit well this evening I’m going to take the low road lectr you know the older I get the more I have brief memory lapses very very brief mind you I walk into a room and for just a second or two I say now why did I come in here and then it comes to me oh yes another cup of coffee that’s what I want or from time to time a word won’t come to me right away especially those pesky nouns instead of calling something by its proper name I can only come up with thing ofama jig or or Whatchamacallit but I am somewhat comforted by the fact that such things happen to younger folks from time to time as well we chuckle at these slips of mind and yet we must be very careful with old age memory humor many of us know firsthand the heartache of relatives with Alzheimer’s dis disease it can come slowly or at times all at once is a dear father or sister or mother just becoming more forgetful or slipping into the grips of the agony of Alzheimer’s nonetheless memory jokes abound and many comedians have based their whole stick on such humor much of it is enough uous for example so 1,24 me megabyte memory card walks into a bar the memory card spots the piano sits down at it and starts playing some incredible music after a number of songs mostly original the memory card gets up and goes to the the bar goes wild with cheers and Applause and the bar owner was incredibly impressed and he runs up to the memory card and says buddy you were incredible if you come back tomorrow I’ll split the night’s till with you no can do says the memory card I’m limited to one

gig or how about this one from the Bible the oldest computer can be traced back to Adam and Eve it was an apple but with an extreme ly limmited memory just just one bite and everything

crashed well having open having opened with a good bit about memory a good bit about memory uh I now suggest to you in some seriousness that memory is one of the key themes if not the key theme in the fourth chapter of Joshua our appointed reading for today yes this chapter has God’s Mighty acts in it his miracles and it clearly shows that these Miracles are done for the purpose of supporting the mission of proclaiming his Saving Grace to all the peoples of the world although the crossing of the Jordan is presented as a miracle the emphasis is not so much on the events themselves but on remembering the significance of these events the importance of memories is found not only in our ability to remember the events of our own lives but is also seen in corporate memory the ability of a people to remember those times and events which have been formative in their own identity whether it is about Triumph or tragedy remembering is important for any Community but it is especially important for the people of God last Sunday for example we celebrated the 11th anniversary of the founding of our savior and the importance of this Memorial is that it will serve to shape future generations and the challenge for us today is to ensure that the retelling and the remembering of our 11th anniversary will invite discussion about Jesus strengthening us in our own pilgrimage and ensuring that we always look outwards to the needs of the world around us we need to remember where we’ve come from and what we’ve been through the hard times and the good times our own Miracles and how God has provided for us every step of the way amen now those who will come after us need to know how we started as a rarely successful merger of two congregations Calvary worshiping in s Pablo and Resurrection worshiping at the beach we traveled together for a short stay at the historic Chapel on Beach Boulevard then to our home just over the bridge near Adventure Landing and now as the guest here of Ocean Park until we return to our newly renovated building next fall and then who knows what our next steps will be as we share God’s good news of a Saving Grace to a lost and a hurting World memorials are critical not only for our church but also for our country we have children and young adults who aren’t old enough to have lived through major foundational events in our history we learned recently of the passing of the last survivor of the heinous surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December the 7th 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt called it a day of infamy and the Outlook was Bleak indeed but the entire country rallied together to endure intense suffering finally leading to what we know as VJ Day victory in Japan on August the 14th

1945 many of us here are old enough to remember the most memorable kiss in all of history when the Sailor and nurse kissed as the largest crowd in the history of Time Square in New York gathered on that day we must continue to teach our children the cost of maintaining our freedom we can’t take it for granted despite the horror of War a relatively new form of warfare Came Upon Us on September the 11th 2001 when Islamic suicide terrorist attacks were carried out on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon while a fourth plane flying in the direction of the US capital crashed in rural Pennsylvania as historic passengers sacrificed themselves by forcing the hijackers to crash into field the September 11th attacks kill some 2,997 people making them the deadliest Terror attacks in history instigating the ongoing multi deade global war on terror now centering every day in the Middle East now that was only 13 years ago and yet our younger Generations don’t remember are understand why we must maintain vigilance let me return to the story of our own church for just a minute to the Autumn of 2003 when Unfaithful Bishops in the Episcopal Church consecrated a practicing homosexual to serve as a bishop against the teaching of Holy Scripture yes it is not polite to mention such things in our current culture but those of us who lived through it were were shattered I was serving as Rector of All Souls here in Mandarin and my people were up in arms they wanted me to lead us out of that church right away but we had nowhere to go I told them that as anglicans we needed to be under a bishop but we had none gradually we were rescued by overseas bishops from Uganda and Kenya and Nigeria and South America and to make a long story of struggle shorter the first Jerusalem Conference of faithful Global anglicans in 2008 encouraged us to form our own province which we did in Fort Worth in June of 2009 with Robert Duncan serving as our first Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America the acna and Foley Bishop now serving as our second Archbishop now his term is up this summer and our College of Bishops will elect our next leader this June our local Gulf Atlantic dasis of the acna was first led by Bishop Neil laar and now by Bishop Alex farmer now I know for some of you all this may sound like some boring historical stuff and we don’t mention it very often but on this day of memorials and Remembrance I didn’t want to forget I return now to the memories Miracles and mission of Joshua 4 and for those of you who like sermon titles this would be it memories Miracles and Mission it was back in Deuteronomy 31: 23 that the Lord commissioned Joshua the son of none and said to him be strong and courageous for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them and I will be with you and even earlier than that however we learn that God has an ongoing purpose and a mission for his people in Genesis 12: 1 to three we hear the Lord talking to Abram I think we should notice that God is always talking to his people in our Joshua readings we read over and over again the lord said to Joshua the Lord said to Joshua and here in Genesis near the very beginning of Holy scripture God says to Abram go from your country and your Kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you and I will make of you a great nation I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse and in you all the families of the Earth shall be blessed and this remains our mission to this very day to bring God’s blessings of his Saving Grace to all the peoples of the earth God’s people have sadly needed frequent reminders that he has work for us to do so the Lord gives us memorials and miracles to help us Focus on our mission of proclaiming his good news you know memorial stones didn’t first appear in Joshua I’m sure you remember the time Jacob was on his way to haran possibly in present day Turkey and when the sun had set he took a stone put it under his head and lay down to sleep he dreamed that he saw a ladder on the earth with its top reaching to heaven and he saw the angels of God ascending and descending on it and the Lord stood above it and said I am the Lord the god of Abraham your father and the god of Isaac notice how God is speaking to one of his servants again then the Lord told him that he would give him and his offspring the land on which he was lying that they would be like the dust of the earth and spread abroad to the west and to the East and to the north North and to the South and that in Jacob and his offspring once again all the families of the Earth would be blessed once again we see God’s Mission restated God intended from the very beginning of recorded history that his people would always be faithful to his mission of reaching out with the saving good news the Lord reiterated his promise to Jacob behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land for I will not leave you until what I have done what I have promised you then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it this is none other than the house of God and this is the Gate of Heaven so Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it then Jacob made a vow saying if God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear so that I may come again to my father’s house in peace then the Lord shall be be my God and this Stone which I have set up for a pillar shall be God’s house as another example of memorial stones let’s look at Samuel a religious hero in the history of Israel who enjoyed every role of leadership open to a Jewish man of his day Seer priest judge Prophet military leader he prayed for Israel that they would repent of their sins and he sacrificed a lamb for them as he was sacrificing the Philistines came to attack Israel but the Lord through the into confusion and they were defeated so what did Samuel do he took a stone and called at Ebenezer saying hither by thy help I’ve come Ebenezer as we know means Stone of help and can’t we all say hither by thy help I’ve come so the Philistines were subdued and did not enter the territory of Israel again and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all Samuel’s days the Lord worked his will and continued his EV evangelizing Mission through Samuel who memorialized his help by setting up that stone marker now I return to the Book of Joshua just as Jesus often did Joshua Rose early in the morning to pray on that morning of the crossing and we’re going to see two Stone memorials this day the first miracle of the crossing is recounted quite briefly stressing perhaps that it is not the miracle itself so much as its significance that matters the account States simply that the priest entered the water carrying the Ark of the Covenant that gold covered box that was carried on poles which served mainly to store the tablets of the Ten Commandments we are also told that the Jordan River was in flood stage normally the Jordan is not difficult to cross except when it floods and as the priest entered the water the water stopped flowing and the people crossed over to the other side on dry ground notice that God’s people sometimes have to get their feet wet before God goes to work having passed over the people are now first referred to as a nation the nation of Israel once everyone had cross the priest left the water with the Waters of Jordan returning and once again overflowing their Banks then the Lord told Joshua to have 12 men one from each tribe to take a stone from where the priest had stood in the Jordan and to bring them across to the place they would Lodge that night he told all the people that this would be a sign for them and that in the future when their children ask them what these stones meant they should tell them that the Waters of Jordan were cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord so that the nation of Israel could pass over on dry ground just as God did when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea escaping bondage in Egypt the stones were to serve as a memorial forever so that all the peoples of the Earth would know that the hand of the Lord is mighty that they might fear the lord God Forever The Crossings of the Red Sea and the Jordan were Mighty Miracles that were to be celebrated by Israel as a constant reminder they marked Israel’s Exodus from Egyptian captivity and entrance into the promised land they were a sign of Israel’s transition From Slavery to Freedom and yet another reminder that God’s people had a continuing mission to share his saving good news of Grace with all the peoples of the

world the Book of Joshua teaches us a lot about the Lord our Our God first we need to remember that he is always in control after all it was not left to Joshua to invent a method of crossing the flooded Jordan for God gave him all the instruction he needed and as we saw the Lord goes before us and is always with us as we follow his leading also as I mentioned earlier the Lord speaks to his people now today we hear him especially through his W written word the Lord continues to work his will through his miraculous Mighty acts we’ve seen him provide for us here in our savior again and again andless we forget the Lord’s Mighty Acts support his purposes his mission of proclaiming the Gospel to All Peoples and just as the Lord used Stone memorials to remind his people of his power and his evangelizing Mission we as Believers need to erect both visible and even lurgical memorials to the glory of God I’m sure you’ve noticed that every time we celebrate the Lord’s supper and come to the time of consecrating the bread and wine we remember how the Lord Jesus Took bread gave thanks and said take eat this is my body which is given for you do this in remembrance of me then after supper Jesus Took the cup and said to them drink this all of you for this is my blood of the New Covenant which is shed for you and for many for the Forgiveness of sins whenever you drink it do this in remembrance of me these words of remembrance are called the words of instit ution hearkening back to Monday Thursday when Jesus celebrated his last supper with his friends now I am sure that none of you have noticed that those words are here with us at Ocean Park I know why you haven’t noticed because they’re under here this do in remembrance of me God is always with us and always reminding us to remember what what he’s about and what he wants us to be about there’s also another Greek word that theologians use to describe our liturgy that’s extremely relevant to the stones of remembrance and it’s the word anamnesis anamnesis is the opposite of Amnesia a person with amnesia has lost his identity and lost his purpose to know who you are to whom you belong and where you are headed you must remember where you came from this concept of anamnesis is basic to Jewish Christian tradition a Jew was one who through anamnesis had cross crossed the Red Sea who had crossed the river Jordan to enter the promised land the Heritage and hopes of a Jewish individual were tied to the Jewish people’s Heritage and hopes an anamnesis of the mighty acts of God was basic to Jewish blessings which reminded god of what he had done in the past asking him to continue to show them his favor in the future now a Christian is one for whom through anamnesis the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a present reality every Sunday we say that it is by his suffering and death that we might be saved we remember that it was by his resurrection that he broke the bonds of death trampling hell and Satan under his feet as our great high priest he ascended to God’s right hand in glory and we are thereby celebrating the memorial of our Redemption why do we celebrate because the lord loves us so much that he gave us a foretaste of his heavenly banquet and to remind ourselves of our mission to share God’s saving good news of Grace to Jacksonville Beach and the world Beyond so I close simply by saying thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ am amen




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