March 10th: “Worship as Freedom”

Israel marks its entrance into the Promised Land with worship. How has God freed us for work and worship?

This Week’s Passage:

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: Joshua 5:9-12

C. Other texts for Year C on the 4th Sunday in Lent

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

9 — Disgrace of Egypt? Would this be related to fear that God had not heard their cries of slavery?

10 — Passover the first meal in a new land. Communion was the first meal on the moon.

11 — In freedom of a new land, responsible for finding their own food.

12 — In freedom of a new land, no longer needed the LORD to provide food.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • Needs a to be introduced with a summary of Joshua chapters 1 – 4: Moses died. The LORD named Joshua to lead Israel. Joshua commanded the twelve tribes across the Jordan. They camped at Gilgal, set up memorial stones and were circumcised.
  • Followed by the siege of Jericho.

II. Literary Study.

A. What is the history of the text? Who wrote it? When? In what social context? What Historical/Religious/Sociological factors influenced its writing?

Generally attributed to the Deuteronomist who favored Mosaic piety and Davidic succession.

C. Review syntax/meanings of critical words, phrases, idioms

Gilgal: Etymologically related to Hebrew verb /galal/: “to roll”

III. Question the text.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of Gravity: Worship marked the shift from slavery to self-responsibility.
  • Music: “Live into Hope”

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • While in slavery, the Egyptians provided their food and housing. While in the wilderness, the LORD provided with manna, quails, and water.
  • Once freed, Israel became responsible for their own sustenance.

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Robert B. Coote (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Book of Joshua.” Abingdon, 1998.) considers 4:19 – 5:12 as one section: from Israel’s encampment at Gilgal, setting up the twelve stones, circumcision of the males borne during the exodus, and the first passover. He notes several important events occurring later at Gilgal. He reflects on comparing Israel’s cross at Gilgal with the American revolutionary and civil wars which liberated people from political and chattel slavery. He notes that poverty, economic slavery, is greater in the United States than in any other developed country.

Perry H. Biddle (Preaching the Lectionary. WJKP, 1991.) suggests connecting the importance of passover with the Lord’s supper.

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

This event marked the end of Israel as a nomadic people to a landed people.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

How has God freed us for work and worship?

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