Achan’s Folly – Joshua 7 (Annabelle Wallace)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
10:00 am August 08, 2021
led by the Rev. Annabelle Wallace
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Lynn Vaughan
Elder: Heather Tansem
children’s time: the Rev. Annabelle Wallace

 We gather to worship God

Music prelude

L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you
P: and also with you

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words
L: Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth
P: God’s steadfast love endures forever
L: Lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them up to the Lord!

Opening praise: Everlasting God

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,
We will wait upon the Lord,
we will wait upon the Lord   (X2)

Our God, You reign forever. our hope, our strong deliverer

You are the everlasting God,
the everlasting God.
You do not faint, You won’t grow weary

You’re the defender of the weak,
You comfort those in need,
You lift us up on wings like eagles

 Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,
We will wait upon the Lord,
we will wait upon the Lord   (X2)

 Songwriters: Brenton Brown/ Ken Riley ©2005 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to worship
L: We have been created to be God’s children.
P: We come, because we want to live as sons and daughters of God.
L: Through Christ, we are invited to participate in life with God.
P: We come, because Christ is the way, the truth and the life.

Prayer of Approach

Merciful God, faithful God, God of good times and God of most difficult times, we come to you for a time of renewal in your presence. We come to you in thankfulness for all your gifts. We come to you for energy in our weariness. We come to you for challenge for our drifting lives. Enter Spirit of God – into each of our lives and enliven us; enter Spirit of God – into our community and enable us to love and serve you and all your children.

Prayer of Confession

Lord forgive us for times when we have served other masters – ignoring your will for our lives. Forgive us for times when we have buried the truth of your Word behind our wants, our agendas, our short sightedness.

We confess that we have ignored you or have acted as though occasional attention to faithfulness is quite enough. And so we have fallen short of loving you wholly; we have deprived ourselves of knowing the true richness of life. Forgive us. Renew us. Inspire within us a zeal for following your ways and for serving humanity in Christ’s name.

Response:  Glory, glory, hallelujah

Assurance of God’s love

Our confidence in God is well-founded. Not only are we granted forgiveness but we are also promised an unending love. The grace of God exceeds our needs and our wildest hopes. Glory and thanks be to God.

Response: Be still and know

Prayers for God’s help and guidance

Holy God, blessed and wise, you have called us to be instruments of your love in the world. Grant us the strength and courage to fulfill our calling. Make our hearts tender to the needs of your people. Lord bring down your wisdom, your blessings and your healing upon all your world.

We pray for the church of Jesus Christ around the world. Bring your church alive through the renewal of your spirit. Open our eyes to your purpose for us. Lead our leaders. Cleanse us of all that prevents your Word from being present to others.

Eternal one, ruler of the universe, we pray for those who govern every land, and for the people committed to their charge. Turn the hearts of leaders to you so that justice and compassion might reign. Help all to put the good of all before the wants of one.

God you suffer with those who suffer. We lift to you the needs of those who are denied what they need to live and those whose dreams have been shattered by war and disaster.

We pray for all those who have suffered through fires and evacuations and floods grant them the courage and strength to rebuild.

We give thanks for workers and helpers who risk their lives for the sake of others.  Keep them safe and healthy.

We pray for all people who are caught in the clutches of violence and hatred and warped values. May we find ways to reach out with hope and sacred life.

Lord of compassion be with those who are ill.  May your healing presence help them to walk through their sufferings and pain.

Loving and steadfast God enable us to be persistent in the exercise of faithfulness. Hold before us the model of Jesus Christ, who worked ceaselessly to reveal your will, and found the joy of living.

May it be so with us.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen

 We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Jesus we are gathered           (514)

Story: The “picker upper”

I use the “picker upper” to pick up paper clips and other metal objects.

Magnets always pull metal towards them.

A magnet is a good image for God.  God is always drawing us toward God.

A long time ago a man named Augustine said

God you have made us for you and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.

God has made us so that we are only truly happy when we are close to God.  Until we get connected to God we are not really happy on the inside.

So God is like a magnet.  We can feel God’s pulling power on our lives.

That is why we are here today. We are being attracted by the powerful pull of God.

And we do our part – we draw near to God – in worship – in Bible Study – in wondering – in asking – in praying.  Those are the magnets we use to draw ourselves to God.

The Lord’s Prayer            (535)

Song: Lord I want to be a Christian                571

Lord, I want to be a Christian ina my heart, ina my heart;
Lord, I want to be a Christian ina my heart, ina my heart, ina my heart,
Lord, I want to be a Christian ina my heart.

Lord, I want to be more loving ina my heart, ina my heart;
Lord, I want to be more loving ina my heart, ina my heart, ina my heart,
Lord, I want to be more loving ina my heart.

Lord, I want to be more holy ina my heart, ina my heart;
Lord, I want to be more holy ina my heart, ina my heart, ina my heart,
Lord, I want to be more holy ina my heart.

Lord, I want to be like Jesus ina my heart, ina my heart;
Lord, I want to be like Jesus ina my heart, ina my heart, ina my heart,
Lord, I want to be like Jesus ina my heart.

 Words and music an African-American spiritual, both public domain

Scripture readings                      
Psalm   34: 1 – 8                    OT (NRSV)          
Ephesians 4: 25 – 5:2                NT(NRSV)

Response: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet      

Message: “Achan’s Folly”  – Joshua 7

It was through story that the people of Israel learned about their relationship to God.  Story allowed people to wonder and to place themselves in the story. Our story today is from the 7th chapter of Joshua.  The people of Israel are now in the Promised Land. They have taken Jericho and chapter 6 ended with “So the Lord was with Joshua and his fame was in all the land.”

But Chapter 7 begins with “But the Israelites broke faith in regard to devoted things.” We need to review the concept of Holy War to unpack this statement. The Israelites were not to use war for personal gain. They were to destroy everything and take nothing for themselves, no slaves, no riches – all was to be for the glory of God.  They were not to get rich from the disasters of others. This concept is called Holy War. Today it has developed in to the theory of Just War. A topic for another discussion someday. “But the Israelites broke faith in regard to devoted things;” says the scripture. Things are about to change for Joshua and the folks.

Joshua sent spies to the city of Ai to assess the strength and power of the city. The spies returned and told Joshua that the battle ahead was going to be a snap. They said “we only need to take about two or three thousand men to fight since there are so few of the enemy and they are so weak. There is just no sense in having everyone get worked up over this battle.

So only three thousand people went to Ai. But horror of horrors the Israelites did not take the city. The men of Ai chased them right back to their camp and killed 36 of them.

Joshua and the Israelites were devastated – they had lost the battle. God was no longer with them! Abandonment and fear filled them.  Joshua mourned and wailed and tore his clothes. He fell face first before the Ark of the Lord. What was wrong? He and the elders stayed in this state for the rest of the day. Smearing their face with dust. Why God why? ,questioned Joshua. Why bring us across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites. They will destroy us. Why didn’t we just stay on the other side of the Jordan? Look at us now! We will be the laughing stock of the land once word gets out that we turned our backs to our enemies and ran. They will surely, search us out and annihilate us – our name will be wiped off the face of the earth. Where will be your glory God?  Why God?

The Lord said to Joshua: “Stand up! Why have you fallen upon you face? Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and they have put them among their own belongings.

How can my glory shine if the people deceive me?” Continued God, “That is why you are unable to stand before these enemies – the people have become destruction themselves. I will be with you no more unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.

Here is my plan, said God. You tell all the people to sanctify themselves and to appear before me tomorrow. The people shall come before me tribe by tribe, clan by clan, household by household. I will point out the one that has broken faith – that person will be destroyed.

So in the morning all the people gathered. First all the tribes were called forth.  Out of all of the tribes the tribe of Judah was chosen. Then as the tribe of Judah stood there, each clan was brought forward and the clan of Zerahites was chosen. Then the clan of Zerahites was brought forth household by household and the household of Achan was chosen.

Joshua said to Achan. “You have broken faith, you have broken the covenant with our God – come now and confess – don’t hide it from me.”

Achan answered, “It is true; I am the one who sinned against the Lord God of Israel. When I saw among the spoils of Jericho a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, then I coveted them and took them. They are now buried in my tent.”

Joshua immediately dispatched some men to dig up the ground under the tent – and there it was – all the loot. They dug it up and brought it to Joshua. Then the spoils, Achan, all his household and possessions were taken to the valley of Achor.

As Joshua stood facing Achan he cried: “Why did you bring trouble on us Achan? Why, oh why?” Now, there is no choice the Lord is bringing trouble on you today. Then they stoned Achan and his family. They made a fire and burned the bodies, together with what Achan had stolen, and all his possessions. They covered the remains with a big pile of rocks, which is still there. Then the Lord stopped being angry with Israel. That’s how the place came to be called Trouble Valley.

Wow that is harsh. It leaves you with lots of questions. Yet, truths abound. If people choose to break the covenant (obedience to God’s ways) then evil permeates life.

Through the covenant, the people of Israel were shown and taught the way to right community living. In Jesus Christ all people have been invited into covenant living with God. In Jesus Christ we have been shown and taught the way to right living. But people turn from or reject such teachings. As it says in Joshua 7 – “The people break faith in regard to devoted things.”

Many years ago there was a story poem in the Presbyterian Record entitled “Why God Why?” it begins with a man walking through the city seeing the pain and anquish all around him. The poor, the hungry, the broken, the lonely, the lost. And he asks “Why, God why?” The pace of the poem increases as more and more of the world impinges on his senses. And he runs down the streets screaming “Why, God Why?” There is silence and a new voice speaks – “Why, people, why?”

From the beginning God created wisdom – a plan, a way of life that calls us to live together in community – loving kindness and doing justice. We have enough to feed the world, yet many starve. We have enough work for all – yet there are unemployed. We have enough space for all yet many are without a land or a home. WE have enough love for all yet we develop enemies. Why, people why?”

The story of Achan shocks us into reality. To disobey God’s way is to bring trouble upon ourselves. The actions of Achan, (disobedience) brought on trouble.

Let’s reflect on this story for today’s world. Many have abandoned the true treasure – the freedom and joy of living God’s righteousness – the art of living for and with others as shown to us in Jesus Christ. Many now spend their lives gathering false treasures, materialism and selfishness cause them to bury them in the foundation of their living – just as Achon buried beautiful art and riches in the foundation of his life.

God’s laws are for keeping  – God’s covenant is to be honoured. That is the message we need to get to a broken and desperate world. In the words of the Palmist: “The way of the Lord is perfect reviving the soul! For all the Achan’s of the world we need to make this Word come alive. We need to live the justice, the love, the forgiveness, the sharing we find in God’s covenant.  We need to shout out an invitation to come – come to God’s wisdom and be freed to live.

Now let’s reflect on the Church. The Israelites experienced a loss of effectiveness when the covenant was broken. If we are no longer a force in the world – what has changed? Have we also “broken faith in regard to the devoted things?” Are we too focused on our buildings, our programs, our forms and traditions to do the real work of discipleship – feed the hungry, clothe the poor, visit the sick, the prisoner – proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are searching and longing for meaning. Are we too focused on every other aspect of our life – our own security, our own pleasure – leaving no space and time for our real vocation – to be the church – to proclaim in word and deed the Word of God. Is that why we are not making an impact on the world around us? Have we brought this trouble upon ourselves.

Finally let’s look at this story on a personal level. What have each of us buried under the floor of our tents? What is it that we keep hidden for ourselves. For some it may be like Achan beautiful things and riches. For some it might be the hoarding of vengeful and hateful feelings. For some it might be a behaviour we know is hurtful for our relationships – yet we persist. For some it might be an ego that must be fed at all costs.  For some it might be talents that we will not use for others. For some it might be opinions that will not be changed, even by the gospel. It is never fun to do self examination yet, examining our lives by the light of the Word of God is what we must do.

The Good news is that when we break the covenant – when we break faith  – there is hope – through repentance – we can be made new – through a re-commitment to follow Jesus Christ.

We do not need to dwell in the valley of Trouble – new life is ours.

Song: May the mind of Christ      (644 )

May the mind of Christ my Saviour live in me from day to day, Jesus’ love and power controlling all I do or say.

May the word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour, so that all may see I triumph only through God’s power.

May the peace of God my Sovereign rule my life in everything, that I may be calm to comfort sick and sorrowing.

 May the love of Jesus fill me, as the waters fill the sea; Christ exalting, self denying, this is victory.

 May I run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe, looking only unto Jesus as I onward go.

 Words: Katie Wilkinson © the estate of Katie Wilkinson. Music: A C Barham-Gould © D R Gould Esk. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

 We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

God has freely given to us – so then let us freely respond to God’s gifts. Your offerings will now be received.

Lord of all power, accept these gifts as symbols of our commitment to live in response to your Word and to work toward a world where your love and peace are held as highest values. May all our gifts and our giving be acceptable in your sight. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen

Response: Now thank we all our God

Reflection on giving

We have been giving faithfully throughout the pandemic. This reflects our commitment to continue the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the various ways described on the screen and in Dayspring Weekly News. Thank you all for your contribution, which comes freely from hearts full of gratitude.

For those of you in the sanctuary, if you have offering envelops with you— simply put them in the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary as you leave the service  today.

Song: One more step along                   641

One more step along the world I go.
One more step along the world I go.
From the old things to the new keep me traveling along with you.

Refrain: And it’s from the old I travel to the new. Keep me traveling along with you.

 Round the corners of the world I turn.
More and more about the world I learn.
All the new things that I see you’ll be looking at along with me                    


 As I travel through the bad and good
keep me traveling the way I should.
Where I see no way to go, you’ll be telling me the way, I know.     


 Give me courage when the world is rough.
Keep me loving though the world is tough.
Leap and sing in all I do. Keep me traveling along with you.


You are older than the world can be.
You are younger than the life in me.
Ever old and ever new, keep me traveling along with you.


Words and Music: Sydney Carter © 1971 by Stainer & Bell Ltd. Used by permission of Hope Publishing Co. Reprinted with permission and permission to stream under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved.

Sending out with God’s blessing

May the love of God surround you. The peace of Christ attend you and the Holy Spirit enkindle you this day and ever more. Amen

Response: God to enfold you

 (Zoom breakout rooms)

 “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked.”   Psalm 1:1

Annabelle Wallace retains the copyright on all original material presented by her.

As far as we are aware, all of the material presented is Annabelle Wallace’s own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

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Posted in Recent Sermons.