August 31st Scripture Setting: Exodus 3: 1-15
God’s initial visual manifestation to Moses was as a fire that did not change or consume a bush; neither did it change that specific spot permanently. Fire was a traditional symbol for God’s presence and would have been familiar to the Israelites during Moses’ time. Today we still associate fire with God’s Spirit—think about candles lit at church, and campfires during youth camps.
Horeb, mentioned as the place where Moses encounters God, is the same as Sinai, mentioned throughout both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. It was holy ground because God manifested God’s self to Moses, just as God manifested God’s self to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob on their journeys. This God hears the outcries of the people in Egypt. This God will be with Moses. This God will keep promises. God’s nature is and will be evident through God’s actions. Can you imagine being Moses at that moment, and experiencing the raw power of God?
God was not some unknown deity associated with a particular time and place. This is a God who knows each of us intimately, our strengths and our weaknesses. And yet God still chooses to call us by name to respond and be God’s servants. Moses knew his weaknesses, and he struggled with that at times. But when it came down to it, God convinced Moses he needed to respond. We are called, just as Moses was called, to be a people who know their weaknesses, who know their human frailty. Once we embrace it, God will help us in our weakness. It is sheer faith in God’s power and promise that is needed from Moses and us alike.
In his willingness to say “Here I am, Lord,” Moses was willing to step outside his comfort zone, embrace those parts of himself he considered “flawed,” and serve. Too often, we hide behind our imperfections and fears, instead of being willing to step outside our comfort zones, to fully allow ourselves to say, “Here I am, Lord.” When we allow God’s divine fire to burn in us (without consuming us!) then we may help others know the power of God in their lives. May we also recognize that God calls the most unlikely people to respond. God works with our imperfections and helps make us new. We only must be willing to respond.
The power of a nonconsuming fire brings us in awe. The power of God calling our name makes us respond “Here I am.” The power of God’s restoring vision makes us companions on the journey.