Aug 29, 2020

BURNING BUSHES ... HOLY GROUND



Prayer
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through your precious, free, and spendthrift love: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne. Blessed are You and blessed is your Kin-Dom, forevermore.

Exodus Chapter 3
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. 2 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. 3 Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” 4 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.” 5 Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 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.

Bushes Burning
The burning bush is an object described by the Book of Exodus as being located on Mount Horeb. According to the narrative, the bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames, hence the name. In the biblical narrative, the burning bush is the location at which Moses was appointed by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into Canaan.

In the narrative, an angel of God is described as appearing in a bush, and God is subsequently described as calling out from it to Moses, who had been grazing Jethro's flocks there. When Moses starts to approach, God tells Moses to take off his sandals first, due to the place being holy ground, and Moses hides his face.
One cannot be face to face with God, it is said, without dying. To be hiding one's face would be acting upon this belief. Nevertheless, Moses had a face-to-face moment with God, and would again and again later in the text, but he did not die. In fact, one could surmise that in that transcending moment, Moses not only found a new life, but also his life's purpose and direction.
God commands Moses to take up what would appear to be a deadly mission. Not death from face-to-face with God, but from challenging the very rule of Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt.
One does not take a command without first knowing from whom the command has come. Makes sense, doesn't it?
So, Moses asks, as if to say, who are you. And, when challenged on an identity, God replies that "I AM the God of the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and that as such God is the unpronounceable name YHWH  (יהוה‎)  meaning
"I AM who I AM", or "I am that I am". With no vowels, God gives a Name to Moses that he knows who it is that mandates his life path, and the Name carried on through centuries without knowing what the pronunciation would be. 
The Name is HOLY. Just like we pray, "Hallowed be thy Name." God makes it a mystery, giving a name with meaning but without utterance.
So, it is not only a moment to remove one's shoes, but also a moment to be reverent to the utmost.
When is the last time you had an encounter with the HOLY, Hallowed One? 
I stopped at McDonald's like most days to get my daily ration of iced coffee. As I pulled out of the drive-through there on the side of the street was a man holding a sign. The sign read, "homeless, no money, hungry." For a second I was ready to do what I do most times - turn my eyes from him and keep on going. But, in an instant, I had a moment. 
I had no idea who he was and what his story told. I had no reason to believe that giving him money would be providing a meal or enabling an addiction. It was like a ticker tape running through my mind is fast-forward ... all I had heard and had stored in my mind. "Give a fish, give one meal...teach one to fish, give one a means of being self-sufficient. You never know if they are telling the truth and what they will do with the money; it is better to buy a meal and give them that instead of cash. Oh, they probably are the cause of their own problems and do not deserve a handout. They are just going to spend it on alcohol, or cigarettes, or - worse yet - drugs!"
All those things raced through my mind ... and then the realization hit me: all those reasons not to help were spoken in church ... by church people ... by those who were identifying themselves as followers of Jesus. Every time a
question would be raised about the "Pastor's Discretionary Fund," someone would want details about where the money had gone, and to whom the money was given. Then would follow the message that "you should only give that money to our own people ... they are the ones we know have legitimate need!" And, then I would remind people about the Scripture of Jesus dividing sheep and goats based on how one cared for the poor, those in need, those at risk, and those on the margins of society. For as we care for them, it is the same as caring for Jesus.
That is where my mind stopped. That is when my car stopped. Then is when I reached into my wallet to give the man something he claimed to need. After all, if I can afford my weekly McDonald's iced coffee, why wouldn't I offer something to him?
Give place out his hand and I gave him the money I had. He looked at me and said, "God bless you!" It was a HOLY moment. I AM was somewhere in that. It was not a burning bush or such, but it was what I saw in his eyes. 
A tear descended his right cheek. It was something like the Spirit descending on that day of Pentecost, alighting on those gathered together. 
There were words. There was fire. There was the HOLY ONE. 
As I closed my window and began to drive on, I saw him as he walked away. He was barefoot. No shoes. No socks. Just holy ground.

God bless you and keep you.
God's holy splendor shine upon you and be gracious to you.
God lift the glory of all the ages and heaven upon you and give you peace.
Always. And, forever.






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