God of Visions, clear our eyes that we might see the unexpected, open our ears that we might hear the unexplainable and clarify our thinking so we might know that you are in the midst of it all. Amen
God sees the situation that the people of Israel are in, hears their cries of anguish and is moved to take action!
You would think that, in keeping with the Hebrew texts, this Actionmight include the mass destruction of the Egyptians, or at least Pharaoh, or at the very least bolts of lightning, to show the anger and determination of YHWH. … You would think, wouldn’t you? God is going to Take Action!
But instead, … instead, God decides to take Action… through Moses.
Moses who was adopted into Pharaoh’s household and raised there under the guise of being an Egyptian.
Moses, the murderer.
Moses, who is on the lamb from persecution by Pharaoh.
Moses, the sheep herder.
This is God’s answer to the cries of the Israelite people?! Oh dear, this is not likely to go well!
But let’s play along, after all, what do we have to lose?!
So as the story goes, Moses, herding his father-in-law’s sheep, takes them, this particular day, far away from where the flock usually pastures and finds himself in Horeb, where the mountain of God stands.
Have you ever found yourself somewhere you never really intended to be? A situation, a relationship, a location … never really expected to be there, but there you are, in a bit of a strange land, with an unfamiliar landscape.
So Moses, is checking things out, always on the alert for the sake of the sheep; watching the horizon, scanning the fields, observing his surroundings, ever the watchman.
And low and behold, not more than a stone throw away, Moses spots a fire, a bush that has burst into flames.
Now I suspect that, if this were you or I, we would be running for the nearest water source and dousing the flames before it consumed the bush, the landscape, the sheep and all!
But Moses, … Moses is curious. He pays attention to the bush long enough to realize that it is not being consumed by the flames, there is no damage to the bush and no threat to the surrounding area. And so he walks a little closer. He wants to figure this out.
But as he does so, he hears something or someone telling him to stop, … to take off his shoes, … to acknowledge that this, this space, this location, this experience, is holy. He is standing, he realizes, on Holy ground.
He is, he understands, in the presence of God. … In the bush, in the soil, in the air, all around him, is holiness and his eyes and ears have been opened to see it, to hear it, to know it.
Rightfully so, he is filled with awe … and realizes that, in this moment, he is so close to God that he can almost see God’s face.
And then, he hears God’s voice. At first the words are affirming for Moses. God has seen and heard and knows the suffering of the Israelite people. Something Moses has seen and heard and known himself for many years.
It must feel good to know that he’s not alone, that God has not left the scene altogether. And how much more exciting to think God has come to rescue the people from slavery!
Yeah! Finally!Justice and freedom for God’s people … for Moses’ people! Hallelujah! Praise god! Let’s celebrate this holy moment! Let’s…
Wait! What?! What do you mean “So go” …?
What do you mean, “you’re sending me?!” …
I thought you said You are taking action, You are doing the rescuing, You are dealing with Pharaoh! What do you mean you’re sending Me?!
…and then come the excuses, all the reasons why YHWH is obviously confused and has mis-judged and totally chosen the wrong person for the job …
What am I supposed to do?! What am I supposed to say?! I don’t have the skills for this! This is not my field of expertise!
Surely someone else can speak more clearly, take more decisive action, be more willing to die at the hands of the Egyptian army! … Remember, that’s why I’m out here in the first place! I’m hiding from the wrath of Pharaoh, … and of You, I thought!
You don’t want me, Lord! When I said “Here I am” I only meant, here I am hanging out in this field; here I am tending the sheep; here I am, standing in this spot, for a moment, looking at a burning bush that, well, isn’t burning.
I didn’t mean, “Here I am, send me!”
No, no, no, no, no … you are confused, delusional, losing your touch around choosing good leaders … Not me, nope, unh-unh!
We’ve all been there, right? In the wrong place, at the wrong time, …. Only to discover that we’re in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, to do God’s work … whether we want to or not!!
Such is the way of this crazy God we worship and follow!
This God that chooses the most unlikely people to do the most amazing things!
This God that places evidence of burning bushes all around us and invites us to refrain from being so focused on the obvious that we miss the unexpected.
This God that says, “you are not here because of anything you have done or said, achieved or not achieved. You are here, because I have brought you here, to this place and this time, in this community with these people, not by accident, but because you have something I need, gifts to be used.
“Perhaps you have been hiding these gifts or maybe you don’t even know you have them. But I do,” says YHWH.
“I have brought you here to this place at this time to serve in ways that only you can serve. So, come, let me use your mouth, your hands, your feet, your heart, your passion.
Take what I give you and use it for the mission and ministry that I am calling you to … I hear the cries of the people and I am moved to take action. So, go. I’m sending you.”
May it be so! Amen