God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
Sunday Message for the First Sunday of Advent; Based on Joshua 2:1-14; Series “Look at ALL the people”
30 November 2012Posted by on
Message Based on Joshua 2:1-14
Oscar Wilde once said that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.
Some of us have done things that we don’t like to talk, or even think, about. Because of that past, because of what we have done or are still doing, many of us have a hard time imagining a tomorrow that is different from today. Do you wonder what kind of legacy you will leave to your grandchildren and their grandchildren? Do you wonder if anyone will remember you after you are gone? Do you wonder if your life will still matter sixty years from now?
The truth is that every one of us is in part a product of decisions made by our ancestors in the distant past and from that perspective, their lives matter.
This brings me to the story of Rahab, a prostitute in the ancient city of Jericho. She lived sometime around 1400 B.C. It was the time when Joshua was leading Israel into the promised land of Canaan. He was given a mission to conquer the land and to annihilate its inhabitants. The City of Jericho was in the path of Joshua’s army so he sent two spies into the city to find out the best way to capture it and put it to the torch. From the point of view of the people living in the city of Jericho at the time, these spies were shady characters. The two entered the home of Rahab, because it would not seem strange for shady characters to enter the home of a prostitute.
From chapter 2 of the Book of Joshua we know that the whole land of Canaan was scared of the Israelites. When people noticed two strangers, they wanted to know who these strangers were. We know that people’s worries were well founded.
The local chief wanted to meet the travelers to interrogate them, but Rahab hid them from the authorities. Not only did she hide the spies, she also sent men from her own tribe on a wild goose chase looking for men she knew were inside the city walls…
So far I’ve told you that Rahab was a shady person, that she committed treason and that she turned her back on her neighbors and friends.
Now would be a good time to ask, “I wonder why we are talking about Rahab during Advent?”
The reason I am talking about Rahab is because she is one of Jesus’ earthly ancestors as recorded in Matthew 1:5:
“Salmon was the father of Boaz. Rahab was Boaz’s mother. Boaz was the father of Obed. Ruth was Obed’s mother. Obed was the father of Jesse.”
In the book of Hebrews 11:31 we read
“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.”
The reason we are talking about Rahab today is because she was willing and able to recognize that God was doing something different from what she knew or understood. God was delivering the Promised Land to the Israelites. Rahab had the strength of character to understand that she was not on the side of God and that unless she made drastic changes there would be none of her legacy left for future generations.
Advent season is about us not being able to go back and start a new beginning. What is done is done. The story of Advent is also about us being able to start today to construct a new ending.
That is what Rahab did. She could not change her past; AND she could construct a new ending. She ended up being a saint with a past and a sinner with a future.
The story of Advent includes generations of people in Jesus’ family. Jesus was not born into a perfect family; he was born into a family with a messy history and a less than pristine past. I think that is the reason why God chose Mary and Joseph to be the earthly parents of Jesus. Because of that history Jesus understands what it is like to navigate the messes of our own lives. Because of that we can count on Jesus to understand us, to accept us and to love us.
As a church we have hard time imagining a tomorrow that is different from today. Do you dare to dream? Do you dare to imagine what kind of legacy you will leave to your grandchildren and their grandchildren? Do you wonder if anyone will remember you after you are gone? What do we need to do today so that Christ United Methodist Church matters in 50 or 60 years?