Summary: A goose named Petunia teaches us this fact through her story.
Bibliography: One Tin Solder from Billy Jack; Petunia
Listen children, to a story, that was written long ago. About a kingdom, on a mountain, and the valley folk below.
On the mountain, was a treasure, burried deep beneath a stone and the valley people swore they’d have it for their very own.
So the people of the valley, sent a message up the hill, asking for the buried treasure, tons of gold for which they’d kill. Came an answer, from the kingdom, with our brothers, we will share, all the secrets, of our mountain, all the riches buried there.
Now the valley, cried with anger, mount your horses, draw your swords, and they killed the, mountain people. So they won their just rewards. Now they stand, beside the treasure, on the mountain, dark and red. Turned the stone, and looked beneath it... “Peace on earth” was all it said.
Have you ever heard these words to this song, One Tin Soldier from the 70’s? What strikes me about the song is that the people of the valley had no idea what was written on that stone tablet.
If they had known it wasn’t gold, I would like to think they wouldn’t have been so eager to kill the mountain people.
If they had known what was written on the stone, would they have tried to live differently? If they knew what the treasure really was, would THAT have made a difference in how they interacted with the mountain people and with one another?
Our Bible lesson this evening is one that comes from the chronologies of the Jewish kings long ago. The storyteller tells of one king who was very different from his predecessors.
Josiah was just a boy - 8 years old when he became king, and what the storyteller tells us is that Josiah was faithful to God.
I’m afraid the temples and synagogues had fallen into disrepair from disuse. Those who had led the country before Josiah didn’t spend a lot of time in worship. There was lots of idol worship going on then - lots of attempts to do the culturally popular thing of that day.
So the house of God was in bad shape. Josiah ordered funds to be handed over to the workers - the carpenters, builders and masons - to repair the temple, and make it a central place of worship once again.
It was while this work was going on that the high priest found a scroll - the book of law from the Bible - the book we call Deuteronomy. This book that gave instruction on how to be a faithful Jew was found among the rubble in the temple.
The book was taken to the king. It was read aloud to the king, and when Josiah heard it, he grieved.
He grieved because the people had not been living faithfully to God’s word. He grieved because he had been ignorant and uninformed, living without a whole piece of his identity, his faith, without a whole piece of his relationship with God.
The book contained the basics in moral instruction handed down from God to the leader of the Israelites, Moses, while the people had been nomads wandering homeless in the desert.
It told the story of how they had been people who were oppressed and slaves in Egypt. It told how God had delivered the people from their oppressors and how the people were to remember this event in worship - remembering God’s grace and favor, remembering God’s faithful presence.
The book told of how the people of Israel had been blessed with a home and land to settle in. And it told how to live a faithful life, providing guidelines. God’s instruction through these words, was that to follow these guidelines and to strive to lead a faithful life was to live a life of peace and harmony.
But to ignore God and to ignore God’s word results in a life of distress and disquiet, of suffering and sorrow.
Josiah grieved, because the people of Israel had NOT been faithful to God. Leaders before him had ignored God’s word, and all around him, Josiah saw the result in the lives of his people.
distress and disquiet, suffering and sorrow, division and lack of peace reigned in the land.
Josiah acted immediately. He called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple with the priests and all the people from the least to the greatest of them, and he read the word of God that had been discovered in the temple.
He called it the Book of the Covenant. And after he read the words from God he renewed the covenant to lead the people of Israel as faithful followers of God.
Then Josiah removed all obstacles that would interfere with a life with God. He removed all forms of idols and other places that were distracting and that had come first in the lives of the people before God had.