Reading for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost: Exodus 3:2-14
We worship a God who is characterized by the cross — the ultimate sign of love known to humanity, not an angry storm god who needs to be appeased. I find it troubling when people of God do not appear to see God’s love and grace. Some religious people blame gay people for hurricane Katrina. That seems to me to be a form of paying homage to an angry storm god, instead of paying homage to the true God. These people are creating a god in their own image. And that god is a very small, vindictive, hate-filled god. Then they put words of hate and condemnation in God’s mouth and expect everybody to swallow it. Spit out that spiritual food; it has spoiled and is poison to the soul, because it is not grace filled.
Martin Niemoeller was one brave man! He is reported to have protested Hitler’s anti-semitic measures to Hitler’s face. That takes courage! He was imprisoned between 1937 and 1945. At least part of that time was spent in a death camp. He is quoted as saying, “It took me a long time to learn that God is not the enemy of my enemies. He is not even the enemy of His enemies.” (1) Nothing proves that more than the cross of Christ.
Those who wish to blame Katrina on gay people need to spend more time in the shadow of the cross, reflecting on God’s grace.
There an angel of the LORD appeared to him from a burning bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire, but it was not burning up. 3″This is strange!” he said to himself. “I’ll go over and see why the bush isn’t burning up.” 4 When the LORD saw Moses coming near the bush, he called him by name, and Moses answered, “Here I am.” 5 God replied, “Don’t come any closer. Take off your sandals–the ground where you are standing is holy. 6 I am the God who was worshiped by your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Moses was afraid to look at God, and so he hid his face. 7 The LORD said: I have seen how my people are suffering as slaves in Egypt, and I have heard them beg for my help because of the way they are being mistreated. I feel sorry for them, 8 and I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians. I will bring my people out of Egypt into a country where there is good land, rich with milk and honey. I will give them the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. 9 My people have begged for my help, and I have seen how cruel the Egyptians are to them. 10 Now go to the king! I am sending you to lead my people out of his country. 11 But Moses said, “Who am I to go to the king and lead your people out of Egypt?” 12 God replied, “I will be with you. And you will know that I am the one who sent you, when you worship me on this mountain after you have led my people out of Egypt.” 13 Moses answered, “I will tell the people of Israel that the God their ancestors worshiped has sent me to them. But what should I say, if they ask me your name?” 14 God said to Moses: I am the eternal God. So tell them that the LORD, whose name is “I Am,” has sent you. This is my name forever, and it is the name that people must use from now on. (Exodus 3:2-14**)
Moses sees a burning bush. God speaks to Moses from the burning bush. The flaming bush is a symbol of the passion, purity and light of God. (2)
We serve a God who takes the insignificant and makes it significant. God took an insignificant bush and turned it into a miracle, (3) a living miracle. The bush was on fire, but it was not consumed. The children of Israel were often persecuted. Yet God used the children of Israel to bless all humanity. Our Savior was born to a Jewish woman. Warren Wiesbe comments that the children of Israel were persecuted, but they were not consumed. (4) God’s queer children have been persecuted too, but are not consumed. And through another persecuted people, queer Christians, God is moving to bless the world. The Lord is calling you to help bless the world.
God calls to Moses. And Moses replies, “Here I am.” That could be one of the bravest phrases in the Bible – “Here I am.” (5) Responding to the call of God takes courage. In Moses, God had a man of courage.
In this passage, Moses gives two reasons why he should not lead the people out of Egypt. His first excuse is that Moses feels he is not good enough to lead the people out of bondage in Egypt. (6)
Moses had a point. Perhaps, he was not god enough to lead God’s people. I do not think a Mission’s Board would call Moses. After all, Moses had a problem with bad hair days and anger management. His rage could become uncontrollable. And he was a murderer. That God would call a person like Moses does not really make much sense. I do not think it made sense to Moses.
Moses, at one time, had been very passionate about protecting his people. That intense passion got him into trouble – into murder. What might have made Moses qualified at this stage is that his passion was tempered by maturity.
The commentator Matthew Henry says, “Moses was incomparably the fittest of any man living for this work, eminent for learning, wisdom, experience, valor, faith and holiness. . .” (7)
You may review your own life, as Moses reviewed his life, and feel you are not capable of serving God. When you look at all of the regrets of your life, there is no way you are good enough to serve the Lord. You may feel you are not good enough serve God, because of your sexual orientation or gender identification. Perhaps, God has a reason for choosing you. The “best spiritual people,” not the worst of spiritual people, killed Jesus. Your feeling unqualified may be just the qualification you really need to serve the Lord. Matthew Henry observes that the more qualified a person is to serve God, the lower the opinion the person often has of him or herself. (8)
God answers Moses first objection by assuring Moses he is the right person for the job. (9) The Lord tells Moses that He will be with Moses. Those who live lives of purpose find it easier to serve the Lord when they remember that God has commissioned them and is with them in their life of service.
The second reason why Moses does not want to serve the Lord is because Moses does not know God’s name. (10) Warren Wiersbe seems to feel there is more to Moses’ request than just knowing God’s name. He feels Moses wanted to know what kind of God the Lord is. (11)
Moses asks God who He is. The Egyptians had many gods. Moses’ question was a good question. What was this god, the God of Abraham like?
The Lord reveals His name to Moses. He says He is the “I Am.” Your Bible may say, “I Am who I Am.” There are many possible meanings that can come from the Hebrew word translated “I Am.” One of my favorite meanings is “He causes to be.” (12)
I get a real interesting picture. Moses tells his people God is going to rescue them. And they reply, “Sure, sure and just who is going to rescue us from the armies of Egypt?” Moses replies, “He causes to be.” This God is the one who causes salvation to be, the God who causes the promised land to be – that is the God who will rescue you. God says, “This is my name forever, and it is the name that people must use from now on.” Every time the name of God is spoken, the people are reminded that their God is the God who causes to be food, water, salvation and the promised land.
The I Am. This is the same God who loves you. God has not changed. The God who causes to be is the kind of God who changes history for you. And that God is waiting, ever waiting to cause to be in your life.
As you step out, allowing the Lord to bless the world through you, remember the God who causes to be who is supporting you, your work, your ministry. The God who causes to be gives you the skills and commissions your work is the very God who causes your ministry to be and to be successful. And the God who causes to be is the God who walks with you hand-in-hand in the storms and hurricanes of life.
** Common English Version
(1) Daniel B. Clendenin. “Link of the Week – When Faith is Hijacked.” September 4, 2005 Proper 18/Ordinary 23. (The Text This Week internet web site).
(2) Revised Common Lectionary Commentary, Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost – September 1, 2002. Diocese of Montreal: The Anglican Church of Canada.
(3) Warren W. Wiersbe. The Bible Exposition Commentary: Pentateuch. (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Victor, 2001), 182.
(4) Weirsbe, 183.
(5) Beth Quick says it is the three bravest words. Lectionary Notes – 15th Sunday after Pentecost. (Internet web site ).
(6) Wiersbe, 183.
(7) Rick Meyers. “Matthew Henry Bible Commentary.” e-Sword. (Franklin, TN: Equipping Ministries Foundation).
(8) “Matthew Henry Bible Commentary.”
(9) Wiersbe, 183.
(10) Wiersbe, 183.
(11) Wiersbe, 183.
(12) Revised Common Lectionary Commentary, Clippings Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost – September 1, 2002.” Diocese of Montreal: The Anglican Church of Canada.
A lifelong counselor, teacher and educator, having worked in elementary and secondary education for 25 years, Gary Simpson is a member of the Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association and has spoken and led workshops on gay-straight alliances, bullying, spiritual self-defense, gay Christian identity, and the needs of GLBT youth and young adults.
Currently studying at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif., he holds a B.Ed. from Union College in Lincoln, Neb., an M.A. in Guidance and Counseling and Ed.S. in Educational Psychology from Loma Linda University in Riverside, Calif., a Master’s in Religious Education from Newman Theological College in Edmonton, Alberta, and a Certificate in Sexuality and Religion from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif.