Texts: Joshua 24:1-2, 14-18; John 6:56-69
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Both of our texts this morning are about the big moments of choice. The scene from Joshua 24 is a covenant renewal ceremony. It is that moment when Joshua gathers the tribes of Israel to ask the poignant question, “Whom will you choose to serve; the gods of your ancestors or the One true God of Israel?” It is a defining moment and the path the Israelites choose will shape and define their future. The place of choice is significant. Joshua has gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, the place where, long ago, God had appeared to Abram and promised the gift of the land. Abram built there an altar, the first sanctuary to Yahweh in the land of promise. It is also the place that God designated as a city of refuge, a haven that interrupts and transforms a landscape marred by violence and revenge. Now, gathered in this city – the place that orients the people to the boundary between justice and mercy and beside the altar that commemorates God’s revelation and promise – Joshua puts the choice before the people of Israel. “Choose this day whom you will serve – the gods of your ancestors or the One true God of Israel.” It is an epic moment of choice for an entire people.