What’s the Story? – The Burning Bush

I think Hollywood has routinely done the Story of Moses a disservice. Not they they have failed to present the awe and grandeur of the scene. They ceretainly have that down pat. No, what they have missed, in my opinion is the character of Moses and his sense of his own abilities in the face of God’s call on his life. Moses, at least at this point in his life, is not the stalwart and charismatic leader of men that Charleton Heston makes him out to be. He is the alienated, stammering outcast that is deserately waiting to hear a word of salvation spoken into his life.

Remember, Moses grew up in the household of Pharaoh, but the text never says that he was anything like a prince. Though he mustered the bravery to stand-up for his fellow Hebrew and even to kill in defence of the maltreated, the response of the spared Israelite suggests that Moses was somehow trapped in the in-between of societies. As Dean Thompson points out in his excellent sermon this week, when the passage about the bush opens with the words “Moses was BEYOND the wildreness,” they weren’t talking about geography. Moses was on the edge of the edge: the edge of society, perhaps even the edge of his own psyche.

So, when God speaks a word of hope into Moses’ life and couples it with a call to great service, you might be able to see why our unlikely hero is confused and scared. God sees something in Moses that no one else has ever seen in him. And, as is God’s way, the Almighty ¬†plans to make use of this wildreness-dweller in order to show his divine power.

Thus, when God CALLS Moses, he also EMPOWERS him in the very same breath. He creates in Moses the very abilities that he desires to see in Moses and that he will ultimate use through Moses. Such is the soul of what we understand as vocation both in the church and in greater life: God calling and empowering in a single step. Joining with us to work not because he needs something that we have, but rather becuase he enjoys the company.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of walking alongside several folks who were in the serious stages of discernment and formation as religious professionals. ¬†What has always been amazing to me in working with these talented people is that God very rarely chooses the skilled or the supremely abled for the ministry. Don’t get me wrong, lots of these folks are talented, but their ultimate ministry arc usually has little to do with long-held skills and abilities. Rather, as folks deepen their relationship with God through prayers of discernment and listening, God begins to create in them the very characteristics necessary for effective ministry. It is almost as if God chooses the people first and the equips them second. How else would Moses, beyond the wilderness, tun into the great liberator of his people?

How else would a math teacher and football coach ever turn into a religious professional?

A Couple of Facebook Teasers for this Blog Post on YouTube:


A full Children’s Sermon on this theme:

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