Summary: We’re called to remember because we forget, to respond because we falter and to remain because we’re fickle.
Rev. Brian Bill
Have you heard that the H1N1 influenza outbreak is now a national emergency? It’s actually a pandemic because the virus has also spread around the world. The CDC this week said that 5.7 million Americans have contracted the virus. In an effort to control the flu bug at PBC we’re doing a lot of things to kill germs. We’ve purchased many bottles of hand sanitizer, and we’re encouraging people to nod and smile instead of shaking hands. I inadvertently shook some of your hands today because I can’t break the habit. Because of that I have my bottle of Germ-X right here with me and I think I’m going to carry it around after the service just in case some of you try to shake my hand.
Here are some other things we’re doing to prevent, or at least slow-down, the spread of the virus at PBC.
* If you or your children are experiencing some symptoms, we’re encouraging you to stay home – I bet you didn’t expect to hear that from the pulpit, did you? From what I’ve read, you need to be fever-free for at least 24 hours before having contact with people again.
* We’ve cancelled our children’s trips to area nursing homes until further notice.
* Our classrooms have bottles of hand sanitizer and our teachers will be using these to help clean the hands of our children.
* We’ve disinfected all the rooms this week. Actually, Carol Schwartz already does this twice a week.
* We’re going to celebrate communion a bit differently today (more about this later).
According to Webster, an epidemic is primarily defined as “a disease affecting many individuals in a community or a population instantaneously.” A secondary definition is “Anything which takes possession of the minds of people…as, an epidemic of terror.” When epidemics hit, it’s natural for people to take notice because they can be terrifying.
I want to suggest that that we’re facing another epidemic that may be even more frightening than the flu. This epidemic is hitting our families hard. We could call it the epidemic of indifference or apathy. Let me share some stunning statistics and facts about the state of the family today.
* According to George Barna, 61% of today’s young adults were churched at one point during their teen years but are now spiritually disengaged. Most youth of today will not be coming to church tomorrow.
* In his book called, “Already Gone,” Ken Ham points out that we are one generation away from the evaporation of church as we know it. Doubts come first, followed by departure. Students don’t begin doubting in college, they simply depart by college.
* And a recent Lifeway poll discovered that 87% of parents believe it’s important to teach their children how to have a relationship with God, but only 55% take their children to worship services on a regular basis.
Please turn to Joshua 24 where we will see that the challenges facing families haven’t changed all that much over the years.
Remember: Because We Forget (24:1-13)
Joshua is now pretty old and verse 2 says that he’s speaking to “all the people.” That means that his message is not just for moms and dads but for everyone here today. I found it fascinating to learn that according to one USA Today article, there are over 28 forms of family today. That means we’re all included somehow.
He’s gathering them at Shechem, which was the perfect setting because it was alive with sacred memories. Shechem is where God appeared to Abraham, it’s where Jacob built an altar and told his family to put away their idols and it’s where the people renewed their covenant when they came into Canaan back in Joshua 8:30.
He wants them to remember because it’s so easy to forget. In the first 10 verses, he summarizes the nation’s history and then in verses 11-12 he recounts what had taken place in the years since they crossed the Jordan River. Why does he do this? Simply put, because they had forgotten and their faith was starting to unravel.
Verse 13 describes what can happen when we start taking things for granted: “So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.” Life is pretty good for them. They are now in Wisconsin (the Promised Land), they have food, clothing, housing and prosperity.
But there’s a slow fade going on. That reminds me of the words to the song by Casting Crowns called, “Slow Fade.” Check out the video: www.pontiacbible.org/index.php?/blog/slow_fade/. Here are some of the weighty words:
It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away