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As for Me and My House

A Covenant Renewal Service Based on Joshua 24

At key moments in their history, God’s Old Testament people renewed their covenant relationship with God. The following service is based on one of those moments as chronicled in Joshua 24. It invites the congregation not only to remember but also to rehearse and reenact the story as their own. Some congregations find such a rehearsal of God’s covenant particularly meaningful as they transition into a new year.

Gathering

Scripture: Joshua 24:1

NOTE: Throughout the service the Scripture was read dramatically. This requires two readers: one serving as narrator, the other as Joshua. The congregation read the part of God’s people.

Song: “God Himself Is With Us” LUYH 565, PsH 244, TH 382

God’s Greeting

We Remember God’s Mighty Acts

Scripture: Joshua 24:2-13

Meditation: “The Mighty Acts”

When Joshua renewed the covenant with God’s people at Shechem, he began with an important recitation of all that God had done for them and their salvation. Our covenantal relationship also begins with God.

IDEA: After the meditation, consider inviting worshipers to write or draw a reflection on where they have seen God at work achieving their salvation. Provide paper and pencils in baskets at the end of each row for people to pass to each other.

Prayer of Thanksgiving (see sidebar p. 41)

Song: “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” LUYH 405, PsH 170, PH 210, TH 30, WR 84

Prayers of Thanksgiving

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
we give you thanks for all your mighty deeds for us and our salvation
and we thank you for all the reminders we experience in life of your goodness and your grace.
For all the times we laughed until our sides ached,
for all the times we were troubled
and friends we didn’t know we had sprang up from nowhere and ministered to us,
for all the times we could have chosen evil over good but didn’t,
for all the times we could have been hurt but weren’t,
for all the times we could have died suddenly and unprepared, but didn’t,

O Lord, we thank you.

For the sheer wonder of our creation, preservation, and redemption;
for the privilege of prayer, the gift of the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit;
for the everlasting arms beneath us,
the watchful eye above us,
the friends around us,
and the trust within us,

O Lord, we thank you.

For seedtime and harvest and food enough;
for every good night’s sleep and every good
day’s work;
for every good friend and every grand sunset;
for warm memories of the past
and the promise of an eternal tomorrow;
for eyes to see beauty,
ears to hear a bird’s song,
hands to hold someone else’s hands, and someone else’s hands to hold;

O Lord, we thank you.

For all persons whose love for us is unconditional,
and in whose presence we can drop all pretense, be ourselves,
and know that we shall be accepted;
for the one who calls us long distance and the one who calls us “darling,”
for the ones who call us “Dad” or “Mom”;
for the One who shall one day call us into eternity;

O Lord, we thank you.

For all your goodness and lovingkindness to us and to all people;
for our creation, our preservation, and for all the blessings of this life;
for your great faithfulness to us in ages past;

O Lord, we thank you.

But most of all, O God, we thank you for your unfathomable, unmerited, entirely undeserved love for us, made known in the redemption of your world in Jesus Christ, our Lord. In his name we pray. Amen.

—adapted from The Worship Sourcebook C.4.4.10
by Louis Lotz from For His Excellent Greatness. Reformed Church in American Northern Regional Center.

We Renew Our Commitment to God

Scripture: Joshua 24:14-25

Meditation: “But Now . . .”

An older Reformed liturgical form for baptism reminds us that “because all covenants have two sides, baptism also places us under obligation to live in obedience to God.” After reminding the people of all that God had done for them and their salvation, Joshua called them to renew their commitment to God. In word, song, and offering, we say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

IDEA: Before moving on to the renewal of baptismal promises, again allow congregants to write or draw how they might respond in concrete ways to God’s call to live a life of obedience.

Renewal of Baptismal Promises (see sidebar)

Song: “Take My Life and Let It Be” LUYH 863, PH 391, PsH 288. TH 585, 586, WR 466

Offering

Scripture: Joshua 24:25

God’s Law: LUYH 715

Song: “Lead Me, Guide Me” LUYH 329, PsH 544, WR 498

Scripture: Joshua 24:26-28

IDEA: Joshua set up a large stone as a witness against the people. At the end of this service, worshipers were invited to take a stone from a pile that had been set up to remind them of their renewed commitment to love and serve the Lord. If you choose to incorporate this activity, consider singing songs of commitment and dedication (particularly ones the congregation knows well) as people move forward to claim a stone. If finding enough stones is difficult, smooth river stones are available at craft stores.

God’s Blessing

Song: “Now Blessed Be the Lord Our God” LUYH 953, PsH 630, TH 11

Renewal of Baptismal Promises

Leader: Trusting in the gracious promises of God,
do you renounce sin and the power of evil
in your life and in the world?

People: I renounce them.

Leader: Who is your Lord and Savior?

People: Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.

Leader: Do you believe in God the Father?

People: I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

Leader: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

People: I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son,
our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

Leader: Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?

People: I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Leader: Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple,
obeying his Word and showing his love?

People: I will, God helping me.

—adapted from Sing! A New Creation 240