GOD MEETS US IN THE ORDINARINESS OF OUR LIVES

THE BURNING BUSH

Exodus 3:1-6

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

GOD MEETS US IN THE ORDINARINESS OF OUR LIVES

Any list of things that are slow and boring might include the shipping forecast, paint drying, dull speeches, being on hold on the phone and possibly a small fire burning away in the outback of the near East. Moses knew all about slow and boring. He had been looking after sheep in the wilderness, it seemed, for ever. Here he was the golden boy banished to the sticks, his glittering Egyptian career wrecked; yesterday’s man, rudderless and adrift in circumstances that offered no prospects for the future other than this interminable shepherding. His frustration and sense of importance are highlighted by his location that day on the “far side of the desert”, on Horeb, the mountain of God. As you know the desert or wilderness symbolised spiritual barrenness.

For Moses this was just another slow, boring and ordinary day until he noticed a bush on fire. In those parts of the world a burning bush was not irregular except that this fire burned on and on and on and “the bush did not burn up”. How long did Moses watch the blaze before he realised that there was something really peculiar going on here? Was this a test for Moses- would he discern divine activity within ordinary life?

In Moses’ case, God first aroused his curiosity and fired his imagination- and only then spoke a word- a word of revelation and then of commission. “Here I am Lord” says Moses as he stood in the presence of the living God, caught up in the present moment that would shape his life forever.

Like Moses we need to catch “the sacrament of the present moment” as God comes to us under cover of ordinary and unremarkable phenomena’. For this we need a childlike sense of wonder and contemplation. Our daily lives are filled with small things, which should give God plenty of scope and opportunity to encounter us. Where is the obstacle?

The obstacle is our awareness- so often we are oblivious to our surroundings. The greatest of all illusions is the illusion of familiarity. Familiarity is the death of awe, expectancy, respect and wonder. Real life is lived in the awareness of the mystery of God. At any moment, on any spot, we can become aware that where we are standing is holy ground. Last week we saw Jacob say “Surely the Lord is in this place”.

The question is not whether God will come to us, but whether we can discern his presence as he signals to us from the ordinariness of our daily lives. William Blake said “as a man is, so he sees. As the eye is formed, such are its powers”. Similarly, Augustine said: “You Lord were within me, but I was in the world outside myself… you were with me, but I was not with you.” In that state of inner life, we walk on in oblivion to the Lord’s attempts to attract our attention and call us over. However, when we are attentive to the present moment, we behold our God in the ordinariness of our lives.

REFLECTION

Re-read the scripture passage and meditate on a word or phrase that resonates with you.

What would you say were the burning bush moments in your life?

When were you last aware that you were standing on holy ground?

Is God trying to attract your attention but your senses are dull? What might God be wanting to communicate to you?

LISTEN TO THE MUSIC

ART

Reflect for a short time on the stain glass window.

CONCLUDING PRAYER

God who meets us in the ordinariness of our lives, we come humbly before you and pray

For those of us who are having Burning Bush Moments
Lord hear our prayer.
For those who need every ounce of faith

to believe that it’s actually You speaking to us,
Lord hear our prayer.
For those who receive callings that will require courage and sacrifice
Lord hear our prayer.
For those who will lose friends, family or reputation as a cost of obedience
Lord hear our prayer.
For those for whom silence would be a great sin,
Lord hear our prayer.
For those whose feet burn from standing on holy ground.
Lord hear our prayer.
For those who, like Moses, think their insecurities, their inadequacies

disqualify them from your call,
Lord hear our prayer.
For those who have been doing one thing one way for so long

that we can’t imagine doing another,
Lord hear our prayer.
For those who might fail,
Lord hear our prayer.
For those who are willing, however reluctantly, to go to the wilderness,
Lord hear our prayer.
For those to whom You must prove your faithfulness

and love over and over and over again,
Lord hear our prayer.
For those whose shame and fear keeps them from the Promised Land.
Lord hear our prayer.
For those who are so angry and frustrated with the way things are

that they can hardly contain it.
Lord hear our prayer.
For those to whom you speak face to face, as to a friend,
Lord hear our prayer. Amen

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St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.

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