Exodus 3: 1-6; 1 Kings 19: 11-13
As I begin today’s message, I invite everyone to think about the idea of the voice of God. In the holy stories, God’s voices are often delivered by the Holy Spirit, by angels, by prophets, by creation, by God’s people, or by Jesus Christ. In some stories, God’s voices seem soft, tender, and lovely. By contrast, in other parts, God’s voices seem powerful, majesty, and almighty but destructive sometimes.
In today’s passage, God speaks to Moses out of the bush, calling him by name and telling him to take off his shoes. Moses still tries to find out exactly whom this brush and the voice belong to. Then, we know the answer, the best way of describing who God is—"I am that I am,” but surely, it sounds like a puzzling answer.
Throughout the Exodus story, we can read all about the good old days—burning bushes, angels of the Lord, pillars of fire and cloud, daily manna and quail from above, parted the red sea, all those signs of the presence of God. So, how and where do we discover signs of the presence of God today?
In today’s other passage, 1 King 19, we are reminded of another type of sign as we are often blind and deaf and fail to listen to God’s voice. We often try to listen to God’s voice in the wrong places— just like the good old days in the wilderness--pillars of fire and cloud, daily manna and quail from above, parted the Red Sea, and so on. However, I wonder if we often forget we may hear God’s voice more often from a sound so thin, quiet, and un-powerful.
As we begin this new year, 2024, we gather together, asking God for one clear direction—giving us one burning busy encounter. Perhaps, in reality, we often hunch our shoulders, keep our heads down, and mind our own business. A burning bush? We don’t see it. A burning bush? We have not got enough time. A burning bush? We already have enough things to do on our list. A burning bush? We need a reasonable explanation. A burning bush? Not me, but for someone else.
I invite everyone to stop and take off our shoes more often this new year, knowing that wherever you are is holy ground. Then, look into every bush, every face, every event of your life—the big and the small, the hoped for and the feared, the bad and the good—look into every one of them for God’s presence and call.
None of us guarantees safe and good days for the new year. None of us has a master game plan for the new year. None of us make a promise that nothing bad will happen to us. However, we trust and believe that whatever is going on, God is with us. God is in it. I am that I am is with us, has been with us all along, and will be with us from now and the days to come in 2024.
Thanks be to God.