Moses and the Burning Bush
God speaks to Moses and he speaks to us.
Several different types of shoes (dress, sports, sandals, etc.)
"Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Exodus 3:5 (NIV)
Shoes...they come in all types and sizes. There are dress shoes like the ones we wear to church, there are sports shoes like the ones we wear when we are playing, and there are sandals or flip-flops that we wear in the summer. Do you wear your shoes in your house? Did you know that there are some cultures where people take off their shoes and leave them at the door when they enter a house? We didn't have a rule that we take our shoes off when we came in the house, but it might have been a good idea if we had. I remember times when my mother got very upset when I left muddy footprints on the carpet or tracked dirt in where she had just mopped the floor.
In our Bible lesson today, God told Moses to take off his shoes! You may already know why God said that, but I think it might be good for us to take off our shoes during the lesson today to help us to think about why God told Moses to take off his shoes. I'm going to do that. If you wish, you may join me. (Take off your shoes.)
As our story begins, Moses is out in the field taking care of the sheep and goats of his father-in-law, Jethro. He led the sheep out into the wilderness near the mountain called Sinai. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to him as a flame from the middle of a bush. The most amazing thing was that the bush was on fire, but it wasn't burned up!
"That's strange," Moses thought. "Why isn't the bush burning up? I'll go closer and see."
As he came closer, God called out to him, "Moses! Moses!"
"Here I am," Moses answered.
"Don't come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father -- the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
When Moses heard those words, he hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.
God continued speaking to Moses. "I have heard the cries of my people in Egypt. I know all about their pain and suffering at the hands of the Egyptians. I have come to help them to be freed fro Egypt and enter into a good land that flows with milk and honey. It's time for you to go back: I'm sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt."
"Why me? What makes you think I could go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?" asked Moses.
"I will be with you," God said. "And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain."
But Moses continued to offer excuses. "But, suppose I go to the People of Israel and I tell them, 'The God of your fathers sent me to you'; and they ask me, 'What is his name?' What do I tell them?"
God answered, "I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, 'I-AM sent me to you.'"
What a story! Now, do you remember why God told Moses to take off his sandals? Because, God said, "You are standing on holy ground." It was holy ground because God was there and wherever God is is surely "holy ground."
Is God here today? Jesus said, "Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." We are gathered here today in his name, so he is here with us. Surely we are standing on holy ground.
Father, we are gathered in your name. Just as you spoke to Moses long ago, speak to our hearts today. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.