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. 2There 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. 3Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ 4When 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.’ Exodus 3: 1-2.
I return to work from my sabbatical on Tuesday, August 5th. I am so grateful to have had this time to turn aside, to spend time in the wilderness I love and to listen for the still speaking God. I am grateful for the leadership of our incredible staff and our members who all ministered so well in my absence.
I hope you too have found time, or will this summer, to turn aside, to watch a fire and listen to those around you.
I hope you have had some campfires in your back yard or while camping. Just think about how many great conversations happen after dark, when you sit and watch the flames flicker, as your mouth anticipates the marshmallow—blackened beyond recognition or carefully warmed to golden brown. I got to spend a week with my brother and nieces up at Sawbill Lake, our fire burned as we listened to the loons and a barred owl and waited for the stars to emerge in the darkening sky. The girls named our resident chipmunk and I remembered how much God loves and names each of us.
There is something truly special about taking the time to turn aside and sit and watch a fire. In the Book of Exodus, Moses stopped and watched. As Rev. Barbara Lundblad, a Lutheran minister wrote, “Moses looked up and saw an awesome sight—strange, impossible. A bush ablaze with fire, yet the bush itself whole and untouched. What will Moses do? Will he walk by as though he’s seen such things a million times? Of course not! We’ve heard the story before, many of us. And even if it’s the first time, we would expect him to be curious, to take a closer look. I mean, you’d turn aside, wouldn’t you?”
If I am really honest I would say no . . . how many blazing bushes – moments of grace – do I miss each day because of my most endless capacity to keep walking. Schedules can do it. We’re terribly busy. We need to get someplace, no time to stop, we’ll come back later. There are plenty of sound reasons to keep on walking. But Moses turned aside. And when God saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him. God did not speak until Moses turned aside. It is one of God’s great inefficiencies, this waiting for human beings to turn aside.
We, like Moses, need to find moments to turn aside. Time to take off our shoes and dip them in the cool waters of Lake Superior, take off our shoes and sit and listen. May you find time in these days of August to watch in wonder.
Let us each sit for awhile, because once we catch our breath, God sends us back out into this world. God so loves. Remember how in the midst of brilliant burning God told Moses, I have seen the affliction of my people and I am going to do something about it. And Moses perhaps is sitting and thinking great, I am so glad to hear it. And then God, the great I am, continues – I am sending you . . . Ohhh yeah.
God sits with each of us. God sends each of us. I am grateful for my time of sitting. And I am glad to be back with all of you who do so much for this wondrous and wounded world.
Peace friends ~Pastor Kathy