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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Exodus 3:1–15

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.

Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.” But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’“ God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations. (NRSV)

Reflection
There was Moses. Hanging out with his sheep, doing his job, minding his own business—far away from the complications of his former life in Egypt. He just wanted a simple existence. Married a nice girl. Got along with her family. Got plenty of exercise chasing his father-in-law’s flock around the hills and valleys. It was nice. Simple. Easy.

Until that blasted bush turned up. Middle of the day, no one around, and there it was—shrubbery set ablaze! Sunny, no chance of a lightning strike; not hot enough to suggest spontaneous combustion; and sheep-instigated arson seemed highly unlikely. And it was still leafy beneath the flames! Not the slightest bit scorched! He had to go closer to figure out what was going on.

Then the voice. Who is that? What is that? How does it know my name? Shoes off, hurriedly, because when a sourceless voice booms at you, you do what it says. God of my father? I barely even knew my father . . . wait . . . Egypt? Why are you talking about Egypt? I left Egypt for a reason. I’m not going back there. Pharaoh?! Are you kidding? We left on . . . not such good terms. And those Hebrew people? They don’t like me very much, either. It’s too much. I think you’ve got the wrong guy here. . . . Just who do you think you are, anyway?

I AM. When you aren’t sure, I AM. When you run away, I AM still here. When you run from who you are, who you’re called to be, I AM there, too. And I always will be. Come. Fulfill what I AM has set for you. Trust me.

Prayer
Present and everlasting God, You are You through all time and space. In my ephemeral uncertainties, You are forever constant. Be my rock in difficulty. Help my unbelief. Amen.

Written by Sarah van der Ploeg, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church


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