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Archive for August, 2014

Finding God in our Burning Bushes

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.  Exodus 3:1-6 (NRSV)

God called Moses out of a burning bush that was on fire but not being consumed.  For me, this is symbolic of the call of God in our lives.  We might hear the call, burn with the fire of passion for God, but it doesn’t burn us up.  Rather, it “lights a fire” in us that might move us to follow God’s guidance and lead us to serving God in whatever way possible.

Another thing about this story is that God calls the most unlikely people to serve!  Look at Moses:  adopted by an Egyptian princess, raised early in his life by his own Hebrew mother, learned the beliefs of the Hebrew people, then introduced to the ways of the Egyptian culture.  However, his roots in Israel went deep, and he killed a guard who was viciously beating a Hebrew slave, so he ran – he was a wanted man.

How could God call someone who was a fugitive from justice, a murderer, and to top it all off, a Hebrew who had married a Midianite, someone who wasn’t part of his race?  Well, maybe we could ask the same question about ourselves.  How could God call any of us human beings, as sinful as we are.  What could God even hope to accomplish through us? 

When we think about the people God has called to ministry, no matter what vocation, we see that God can accomplish a lot in spite of the imperfections and faults.  Moses argued with God that he wasn’t the best person since he stuttered.  He didn’t even know what to call God.  David was just a boy when Samuel anointed him king over all of Israel, and he had his share of sinful behaviors! 

Jesus’ disciples were great examples of backsliding, faltering, misunderstanding, being argumentative, and showing all their humanness, yet Jesus was able to teach them and send them forth to be in ministry to build the Church.  Many of the church reformers struggled with their calling:  Martin Luther, John Calvin, John and Charles Wesley.  Yet, they changed the face of the church and opened doors for many to find Christ in a variety of ways.

Where does God call us?  How do we find our own burning bushes?  Do we pay attention or ignore them?  When we figure out that it is God’s call in our lives, do we follow through or make excuses?  How can we trust that God knows what God is doing?  Thoughts to ponder as we journey through life and as we strive to be faithful to our Creator who knows us better than we even know ourselves. 

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Adoption

Exodus 1:10  – When the child grew up she [Pharaoh’s daughter] . . . took him as her son.  She named him Moses, ‘because,’ she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’ ”  (NRSV)

Moses was adopted.  Against all odds and in a twist of irony, he was taken by the Pharaoh’s own daughter into the palace in Egypt and raised as an Egyptian prince.  However, there were other twists to this story, especially when it came to the women who were involved in keeping Moses alive.

The Pharaoh was paranoid (we seem to find a lot of that in the Biblical leaders!), and he worried that the Hebrews would somehow become more numerous than the Egyptians, so he ordered them enslaved.  Interestingly, the scripture tells us that the harder the Hebrew slaves worked, the more they propagated, so their numbers began to swell.

When the slavery didn’t contain them, the Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill all the baby boys at the birthing stool.  Since the two women believed in God and were faithful to God’s ways, they ignored the Pharaoh’s order and found a viable excuse for not following his directive. 

Once again frustrated by the growing Hebrew population, the Pharaoh issued a decree that all Hebrew baby boys were to be thrown into the Nile.  At that point, the mother of Moses placed him in a floating basket and set his sister to watch over him.  The Pharaoh’s own daughter found the baby and took pity on him.  In yet another ironic twist, the princess asked Moses’ sister to go find a nursemaid for the baby, and of course, she brought her mother who was then PAID to take care of her own son. 

Maybe Pharaoh should have worried more about the females than the males because it is clear in this story that the females involved all were part of saving Moses’ life and setting the stage for the Exodus.  Moses was raised initially in his own Hebrew environment, and when he was weaned learned the ways of the castle and Egyptian government.  He would have been fluent in Egyptian languages and customs as well as knowing his own ethnic background.  It was through that upbringing that he was able to manage – or rather, that God was able to work through him to set the Hebrew slaves free.

In the Christian church, we are adopted into the family of God with love and grace and support from our congregations.  God claims us and names us as God’s own child.  What marvelous and wonderful things has God called us to do for God?  What gifts have we been given in our lives that would help us to accomplish and carry on the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ on this earth?  It’s worth pondering!

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