Whom will you serve? — Family faith formation @ home: August 15, 2021



Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy to begin your time of learning together. 

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Christ, the light of the world.
(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.
(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the Scriptures.
(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God.
(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the table.
(Place a symbol of communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread, grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.

God sightings and prayer offerings 

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something — a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer. 

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world. [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for… [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen

Connecting with Scripture: Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-15

Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

For the second reading of the text, learn how to say the verse using American Sign Language (ASL) by watching this video.

If you’d like to put today’s text in the context of the whole book of Joshua, explore this video from the Bible Project. (Other than its gendered language for God, it is a very good overview.)

 Connecting through story

Watch this episode of Steve Hartman’s “On the Road” about a mother’s challenge and a son’s response.

  • In ways was Bruno Serato serving the Lord?
  • Why do you think he starting providing a meal the first time and why does he continue?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • Why do you think Joshua gathered all the people together in one place?
  • Why do you think he began by reminding them of the ancestor Abraham and the story of God’s faithfulness?
  • What is Joshua asking the people?
  • Why do you think he had to ask that question so obviously?
  • Where do we gather to hear the story of God and consider the places where our stories intersect?
  • How does the story of God’s faithfulness impact the ways we see God, ourselves and the world?
  • In our lives today, when and where do we encounter Joshua’s question, “Whom will you serve?”
  • In what ways is the question overtly asked and in what ways is it implied?
  • In what ways do you make your profession of faith, your allegiance to God alone, known?
  • How do you show your commitment to God?
  • In what ways do you serve God? Or, as Joshua commissions in verse 28, how do you live into the inheritance you have received from God?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • The book of Joshua begins just after Moses’ death. Joshua is given the mantle of Moses and becomes the leader of God’s people.
  • At the end of Deuteronomy, they are gathered on the banks of Jordan River getting ready to cross over into the Promised Land. Moses gathered them and gave them instructions on how to live as God’s freed people: Love God and love neighbor.
  • In a scene strongly reminiscent of Moses leading the people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea God parted for them, God parts the Jordan River and Joshua leads them through to the other side — to the land for which they had waited, yearned, wandered and finally received.
  • The “problem” with the Promised Land was the Canaanite people were already living there.
  • God’s covenant with Abraham was a promise that his descendants would become a great nation and that God would give them land.
  • God’s covenant with Moses reiterated they would be given the Promised Land, but they had to love the Lord their God and their neighbor and above all else they were never to worship any of the Canaanite gods.
  • Our text today picks up at the end of the book of Joshua where, in another parallel to Moses, Joshua is at the end of his life as he gathers the people for one last opportunity to remind them who they are and whose they are.
  • He rehearses the story of God’s faithfulness to God’s people – from Abraham through Moses to that moment – and asks them to choose whom they will serve.
  • The people make a conscious choice even in the face of Joshua’s reminder that the One who fulfills covenantal promises is a jealous God and forbids any worship of other so-called gods.
  • Joshua sets the standard by publicly proclaiming his, and his family’s, allegiance and service to God alone.
  • The people follow his example and openly announce their commitment to worship and serve God.
  • Joshua closes the book by renewing the covenantal relationship with God and sending the people into the to live “into their inheritance” as God’s own freed and faithful people.
  • This rehearsal of the mighty acts of God from the promises to Abraham through the deliverance through Moses to the promises kept under Joshua’s leadership this commissioning moment is remarkably similar to the flow of our worship service. We gather to worship, hear the Story of God and how our stories find their meaning in the God who delivered us from our unfaithfulness once and for all in Jesus Christ. In worship, we publicly proclaim our sole allegiance to God, are commissioned into a life of faithfulness and sent back into the world to serve God.
  • Each week we find ourselves, figuratively, gathered to hear the same question Joshua asks of the people of God, “Whom will you serve?” and the question is for us to answer anew: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

For the response to the Scripture today, as a family choose an outreach or mission project to do together this week that serves God and furthers God’s witness in the world.


Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.