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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Today’s Reading | Exodus 3:13–17

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.

Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying: I have given heed to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt. I declare that I will bring you up out of the misery of Egypt, to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.’” (NRSV)

I remember when my introductory theology professor stated, “You all know that God’s name is not God, right? That is the name we call God but our language is limited. God is beyond G-O-D.” Even though I did intellectually know that what he was saying was true, I had honestly never thought about it very much. God will always be beyond our ability to articulate or define. Our language constantly runs up against our human limits when talking about the One known as God.

Moses, himself, came face to face with the limits of our language and the mystery of God’s self. “What is your name?” Moses wanted to know. “Who are you?” “I AM WHO I AM,” the One we call God responded. Even though God was revealing God’s self to Moses, God was still purposefully shrouded in mystery. As the poet Emily Dickinson said, “Tell the truth, but tell it slant.” God was telling God’s truth, slant.

Most of the time, I am grateful for the mystery of God. I am grateful that I cannot define who God is, or assume I always know what God will do. There is a freedom in remembering that God is the one who is Creator and I am merely creature. But there are those moments, though, when I wish the mystery of God were more transparent. I have many questions for the time when I finally see God face to face. In the meantime, I will continue to ground myself in the Mysterious One who chose to make, love, and claim all people, even if we cannot articulate the depth of our gratitude.

Gracious Mystery, give us the freedom to simply receive you as you are, without the temptation to try and control you. Help us to keep our understandings of you from becoming idols. Keep creating space in our imagination to be able to see what you are doing in this world. We thank you for your decision to claim us. And we thank you for letting us glimpse your human face in Jesus our Christ. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

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