Todd Moffet
Christ Church, Susquehanna

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: “Be
strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people into the land
that the LORD has sworn to their ancestors to give them; and you will put them
in possession of it. It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you;
he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Deuteronomy 31:7-8

As an Episcopalian, I am fond of ritual and ceremony. I know one purpose of ritual and ceremony is to indicate publicly the seriousness of the matter that is recognized (I am saddened, sometimes deeply, when I encounter those who think that Episcopalians focus on ritual to the exclusion of deep spiritual matters). Our church ritual, especially for ordinations and installations, has some counterparts in the secular and academic worlds where new office holders assume their positions in inaugurations and installations. One common feature of all of these is a public ceremony in which injunctions are given and vows said.

In the reading today, we see such a ceremony in which Joshua becomes Moses’ successor. In the sight of all Israel, Moses tells Joshua to “be strong and bold,” that “it is the Lord who goes before you” and that Joshua should not “fear or be dismayed.” This all occurs before Moses’ death and the crossing of the Jordan by Joshua at the head of the Israelites. Moses then tells the priests and elders that they must remember God’s law and read it publicly every seven years so that all “may hear and learn to fear the LORD.” Moses, who seems troubled that the priestly class of Levites may corrupt God’s law after Moses’ death, tells the Levites that he will repeat the law to elders and officials of the tribes (apparently, not clergy members) so that God’s law is written into the hearts of many.

Surely, the chances of any successful journey are enhanced if we are ready to be strong and bold in dealing with challenges on the road. Even better if we tell our leaders that we want them to be strong and bold. Our energy level for the trip certainly will be higher if we remind ourselves regularly that, although the destination is unknown, God will not fail or forsake us. If we find ceremony meaningful, we might even create some of our own that is appropriate to a journey. To keep this journey moving along (it may be long), it surely would be useful periodically to publicly remind ourselves why we undertook this journey, what its goals are.

Good to have more items in that notebook that will go in my travel bag.


Copyright: gerper / 123RF Stock Photo