Humbly Standing on Dry Ground

1 Nov 2020 by Richie Dulin in: Sermons


The Lord be with you! Welcome to worship, God gathers us here today but God is also with those worshipping at home and through the online space. Whatever way we worship, it all leads to God. God is here with us now as we sit apart from each other and with those distant from this space. Christ binds us together, so now let us worship.

Acknowledgement of Country

And as we begin our worship, we acknowledge the First Peoples, here it is the Wallumedegal people of the Eora tribe. And we do this not because we put the First Peoples above God, but simply because God is revealed to us in a particular place and time. As we honour them for their custodianship of this place we are also reminded of the conquest and survival that took place, and our calling to walk together towards truth, reconciliation and justice.

Call to Worship

When we stand at the edge of fear and worry,
God invites us to step into the waters of faith and trust.
When we stand at the edge of the world's pain and need,
Jesus invites us to step into the land of humble service.
When we stand at the edge of our hunger and thirst:
the Spirit invites us to sit at the Table of grace.

Written by Thom Shuman, and posted on:

We Pray Together

Prayer of Adoration

Let us give our adoration to God through the Hymn: All Praise to Him.

Prayer of Confession (who we are)

Lord of all the earth, the one who promises steadfast love forever, you draw us near and close, so we come to you with our burden and struggles. And we confess them to you now in silence.

(A time for silent prayer)

Holy Lord, who journeys with us,

We live in a world with too many problems, too many divisions, and endless violence in all sorts- towards each other and to your beautiful creation. At times we shut our eyes and cover our ears and block the things that give us nightmares. Sometimes it feels like there is no way out from all the mess we have created.

And you, our God, Lord of all the earth, humbling Christ, stand with us, go before us showing us the way. The only way that turns a desert into pools of water, where the hungry live, fruits yield and the greatest among are servants.

O God, forgive us, we have failed to walk your way.

Forgive us, we often pick and choose your way as it suits. Be patient as we struggle and tumble because living your way is not easy. Stand with us gentle Christ as we dip our feet in the mighty stream. Be with us as we labour and toil for your kingdom. Amen.

Words of Assurance

People of God, God makes a way when there is no way. Jesus Christ is the way. In Christ, through Christ and because of Christ, our sins are forgiven. Thanks to be God!

Hymn: O Master Let Me Walk with Thee.

Hearing the Word

Bible Reading: Joshua 3: 7-17 and Matthew 23: 1-12

Lord, may your word live in us, and bear much fruit to your glory.


In our struggle to hear your word, O God, bless even our doubts, wonderings and questions. By the power of your Holy Spirit, we may hear what you are saying to us today. Amen.

“Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God” (v.9) says Joshua. It is time. The moment of God’s fulfilment is here. In God’s way and in God’s time, God is fulfilling the promise. The presence of the living God who made a promise to the ancestors, who hears the cries of the oppressed, who delivers people out from slavery, who hold back the waters of the Red Sea, who feed the hungry with manna, who makes the covenant with God’s people, who journey together in the wilderness is about to be revealed once more as people are gathered at the edges of the Jordan river, ready to cross over to the Promised Land.

This is a crucial moment, so crucial is this crossing that the account is covered in two chapters (Chap. 3 and 4). This is a critical moment in history for the Israelites and the texts attest that three days of preparation is required. The people are asked to consecrate themselves (v.5). The priests are given specific instructions to take up the ark of the covenant (v.6), to go ahead of people and to stand in the river (v.8).

This literary unit of the Jordan Crossing is a mess. It is jumbled with geographical details, chronology and theological setting. In the two chapters the crossing over is talked from different angles, and the Hebrew root word (‘br), “to cross over” is used 24 times. The compliers who put this text together could not emphasize enough the importance of this event. The Jordan crossing is a significant boundary and a transition marker. This is an incredibly important event where “the act of crossing brings Israel from promise to fulfilment and changes Israel from a wandering people to a landed nation.” This story is full of hope and dread where the period of wandering is finally over, and the Lord is about to stop the waters again so that the people could pass on dry ground. This ritual is an act of remembrance and renewal and the crossing over is a reminder that this is how the journey began. The crossing of the Red Sea was the initial saving act for the people, and this is the fulfillment of the promise. It is also an act fraught with trouble, as they are crossing over into a land that is already occupied. War is coming. This cannot be ignored.

It might be Joshua delivering the words of God and giving commands but ultimately it is the Lord of all the earth who is going to stop the mighty steam and lead the people of God into the Promised Land. The text goes on to say that the people will know the living God is among them “who without fail will drive out from before you the Cannanites, Hittites, Hivities, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites.” (v.10) Fulfilment to God’s promise comes with a cost. As God keeps God’s promise the people of the land, the locals are dispossessed.

And as we come to this text from a place where there has been survival and conquest, where the First People continue to raise their voice for truth telling and justice, we halt at the edges of the text. We are hesitant to stand in it.

This is a troubling text. The book of Joshua, a book of God’s fulfilment, is a disturbing book. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, total destruction of men and women, young and old and even killing of animals (6:21) is mandated by God. The God we meet in the book of Joshua is incomprehensible and I continue to struggle with this God that I cannot understand. God uses violence to possess the land and not surprisingly this book has been cited as the basis for past and present colonial oppression and religious violence here and in different parts of the world.

The churches rarely preach on the book of Joshua and if it does appear in our lectionary, we make sure that the nasty bits are left out, because they confront us with a God who make us uneasy and uncomfortable. Talking about the issues of racism and colonialism confront us and makes us uneasy and uncomfortable. So, we halt at the edges of the text wondering how to dip our feet in it. Do we stand in the text faithfully or are we eager to cross over, to the parts that are not so confronting? We halt at the edges of our world where a treaty is yet to be made wondering how to dip our feet in their struggle. Do we stand with them or are we eager to cross over, to the part that talk about reconciliation as what is done is done, let’s move on?

But how can we talk about reconciliation when we have not fully repented? How can we understand the depth of God’s mercy when we have not fully comprehended that God’s ways are not ours? God works in way that we do not understand or control. And because of this we are graced with mercy through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who freely gives himself to death on a Cross. We tend to skip to the Resurrected Christ with ease and joy but the death of Jesus on a Cross confront our reality and a way of Christ that unsettles the world. God is again incomprehensible but through it we are given a new life. A promise of a new heaven and earth.

Our churches are built on land that was stolen and never ceded. Our history is embedded in racism and colonialism. The violent warfare portrayed in the book of Joshua is embarrassing and we want to deny it, wishing the mighty stream would wash it clean. The lingering racist colonial legacies of our past and present is embarrassing, and we want to deny it, hoping that the water of baptism makes us all clean. And then we are confronted with a God who says draw near and hear the Word, take up your Cross and follow me (Matt. 16:24). So as we move from the edges of our comfort and stand with our First Peoples and their struggle for justice and truth telling, we will encounter issues that unsettle, hurt, and haunt us but this is our Cross to bear and as stand in humble silence we see Christ at work to bringing true reconciliation. And for this we are thankful.

To the Holy Trinity of Love, be all honour and glory and praise. Now and forever. Amen.

Hymn: Nothing to Fear.

Prayers of the People

Let’s take a moment to calm our minds as we bring our prayers for the world to God.

Good morning Lord,

We thank you for this glorious day and the freedom we enjoy in Australia to meet, physically and virtually, to worship you and praise your name.

We ask that you uphold our minister Richie, and his family. Through your Grace, support him as he leads us and supports us as he teaches us and guides in your ways.

We pray for all those whose lives are affected by the COVID virus, and that’s all of us really, isn’t it. Support those who are working in hospitals to bring sufferers back to good health. In body and in spirit, strengthen those whose lives are constrained, who cannot visit their friends or their family and those who look after them. We pray that you will keep your arms wrapped around those who have lost their jobs because of COVID, and help them find support through you, through their friends and family and through all the support services our communities make available. We pray too, for those who are charged with keeping us safe, carefully balancing the human aspects and the economic impacts. Help them remember that human lives are way more valuable than the dollars that might be forgone in protecting them.

We pray for leaders around the world. Please be boldly present in their lives. Keep the health and welfare of every person in their constituency top of mind. Remind these leaders of the need for love and compassion, respect for every person and every aspect of God’s marvellous creation. We pray that you will help these leaders look after the world and its people at least as closely and carefully as they look after their own home and family.

We pray these values and vision will inform voters’ decisions and encourage them to make sure their vote counts.

Lord, we ask that You will be with the members of the JNC as they consider how our Carlingford congregation might best continue to serve You and also learn to bring the comfort of living Your life to more people in our community.

Gracious and loving Lord, we bring before you all who are not at their best at present. We ask that you uphold, strengthen and support all those who are ill and recuperating, those whose health is waning and those whose minds are troubled. Bring them the strength of spirit that comes from loving You, keep them confident in the comfort of their faith and guide them lovingly through their woes. We pray too, that all those who love them and care for them will know that same strength and guidance; the love of God.

He walks with us so gracefully, He will take your crown of thorns.

"Come in," He says, “and I will give you shelter from the storm."

We commend to your keeping, Father, ourselves and each other, our families, our neighbours and our friends. Enable us by your Spirit to live in love for one another and for you.

Hear us, Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us this prayer


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

Hymn: God the maker. 

Closing Prayers

Offering prayer

Blessed are you, Lord God our Creator; through your goodness we have these gifts to share. Accept and use our offerings for your glory and for the service of your kingdom. Amen.


People of God, remember that you are the Gospel. Be confident that God stands with you. Walk the way of Christ and as you go from here may the Creator hold your hand, Christ join your footsteps and may the Spirit dance in your playing and love be found in your way. Amen.

Adapted from Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Echoes of our Journey: Liturgies of the People, Melbourne: JBCE, 1993