In the Lectionary

November 8, 32A (Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25; Psalm 78:1-7)

Is our story of struggle also one of faith, hope, and love?

There is a science fiction show called The 100, currently airing its seventh and final season on the CW Network. It depicts the future of humanity after an apocalyptic nuclear war. Over the course of the series, the world “ends” more than once, and the plot complexifies to include entirely different groups of humans who have each survived the catastrophic ordeals that befall them in different ways, whether it’s on a spaceship, deep underground, or on another planet. Over and over again, the various groups struggle and face unbelievable hardship. Over and over again, the show raises the questions, What are we willing to do to survive? Who are our people? What does our past say about who we are? And what world and legacy will we leave for our children?

Both Joshua 24, in which the tribes of Israel renew their covenant with God under Joshua’s leadership, and Psalm 78 depict a people remembering their past and contending with its impact on their future. Joshua reminds the Israelites of their history, that long ago their people worshiped other gods until God made a covenant with Abraham. Like the people in The 100, the Israelites have been through many struggles. Years in slavery, then years spent wandering in the desert. They have survived famine and war. And God, Joshua reminds them, has led them faithfully through it all.

In reminding the people of their history, Joshua also poses a question: Will they remember where they’ve come from—who their people are, the story they’ve inherited—and remain faithful to God in return? Or will they grow complacent, distance themselves from their history, and wander away again to other gods?