March 8, 2013

Lenten Journey: The Burning Bush

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.  Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire flaming out of a bush.  As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed.  So Moses decided, "I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned."
When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, "Moses!  Moses!"  He answered, "Here I am."  God said, "Come no nearer!  Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground..." 
- Exodus 3:1-5 
For Reflection...

Moses was spending another day in the desert.  He was tending sheep, but in other ways, I imagine his desert days were not so unlike ours.

What was Moses thinking about there, in the desert?  Was he remembering Egypt?  Growing up in Pharaoh's palace?  The murder he committed that forced him into exile, to the desert?  Was his heart heavy with memories and worries?

Was he thinking instead of the future?  Was he wondering if this was it for him, whether he, son of Pharaoh's daughter would tend sheep forever?  Whether his past would eventually catch up with him?  Whether he was meant for something more than this?

Or, perhaps most likely of all, he wasn't thinking much of anything.  Perhaps his day, like so many of my days, was filled with the ordinary, the routine.  Was he preoccupied with tracking the sheep that tended to stray?  With watching the horizon?  With waiting for something that might distract from the monotony of another day in the desert?

In any case, something did happen that day, something out of the ordinary.  And Moses noticed.  And not only did he notice, he turned aside.

Maybe we forget that that didn't have to be the case.  Moses could have been sufficiently preoccupied with remember the past or worrying over the future or just going about his business, that he would not have noticed the burning bush.  He could have continued on, not turned aside.  He could have, but he didn't.

He turned aside, looked more deeply, and he heard the voice of God.

We've focused our prayer on time apart, a portion of daily quiet in which we might connect with God. We've also explored what it means to fasten a word to our hearts to recall us to God during the day or night.  Today we add this new dimension to our prayer -- becoming aware of the presence of God all around us, in the most ordinary moments of our days -- watching, becoming alert, noticing that there might be a burning bush right now, right here.

For Entering In...

Spend a few moments in silence becoming present to yourself and to God.

Reflect on these questions:
  • What does an ordinary day look like for you?  What are the things that preoccupy your mind?  Do you tend to get caught up in thinking about what's past?  Worrying about the future?
  • Have you had a "burning bush" experience?  Has there been a time, when you were going about an ordinary day and felt called to turn aside and notice something new, something God was doing to break through and attract your attention?  
  • The ground God calls "holy" in this passage is the same desert floor on which Moses always walked.  What would it mean if your ground -- the ground you walk in your home, your workplace, your grocery store, your kids' school, your neighborhood -- was holy?  What would it look like for you to "remove your sandals"?  What does it mean that everything around you is sacred?
  • The voice that speaks to Moses from the burning bush tells Moses God's particular will for him (Exodus 3:10ff).  God draws on Moses' past, his history as a son of Pharaoh, in this present moment, to set Moses on a road to his future.  Spend some quiet prayer reflecting on how God might be using your past -- your relationships, your experiences -- to call you into service for the Kingdom, now and into the future.  How have you been prepared?  Where might you be called?
- As you move out of this period of quiet reflection, consider how you might take your heightened awareness of God with you into the rest of your day.  What can you do to remind yourself that, wherever you stand today, you are on holy ground?

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