I must turn aside and look at this great sight

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Father, may these spoken words be faithful to the written word and lead us to the living word, Jesus Christ our Lord.

This year in my back garden we have blessed by an abundant pilgrimage of gorgeous butterflies. They are not there all the time but when the sun is out suddenly they appear swooping and darting above my head. 

Their beautiful flame red wings flash in the sunlight, they manoeuvre through the air effortlessly and sometimes are joined by a partner. 

They twist and twirl in a seemingly endless dance spiralling higher and higher. It is fascinating to watch, their darting display is irresistible I have to stop whatever I am doing and just sit and admire them. 

Moses in the Old Testament reading today has a similar experience. He is minding the flock of his father in law, he has wandered through the wilderness and suddenly he sees the bright red flames of a bush that is on fire but it is not being consumed by it. 

What a sight to behold, imagine standing there watching the flickers of flames seemingly using up the kindling of the bush but nothing happening to it.

Moses turns aside, stops what he is doing and invests his attention to this miraculous event. God notices that Moses has stopped what he is doing and has gazed all his attention on what God is doing, and God calls him.

This is a brilliant model for us to see how God does things and inspires us to pay our full attention to what He is doing. 

How often do we hear stories of people’s lives being transformed by God but we turn a blind eye, perhaps become cynical, perhaps even disbelieve that God would do such a thing?

How often do we sit in the pews and hear the word of God, how often do we see the Eucharist, yet we do nothing, we say nothing, the altar is aflame with the passion and love of our God and we sit there unimpressed, we have not turned aside to witness the glory of our God right here in front of us.

Yet here in this story we see Moses stopping what he is doing and he watches and he listens.

God then tells Moses to take off his sandals because where he is is Holy. 

We can learn from this command too, we can take off the things that make us feel comfortable when we worship because wherever God is present and doing things, that place is Holy.

How might we take off our sandals when we are in the presence of our God?

Can we dare to worship with more passion, can we approach the altar with joy and thanksgiving, can we say that something has touched us, or God has spoken to us. 

Taking off the worries and things that can hinder our ability to proclaim the beauty and amazing things of the Lord is difficult. But God says to Moses take off your sandals, because where you stand is Holy, it is Holy because God is there, it is Holy because God is doing something, and we are to turn aside, to look afresh on the all consuming fire that is our God.

The thing I love about the burning bush, is that it is not consumed, and this is another lesson for us, when we feel that everything around us is pressing in, when things are tough, when life is difficult, we are not consumed by it because the God who sustains holds us through it all. We are not burnt up, we are still under pressure, but we are held in such incomprehensible Grace that we can see the light that the darkness cannot overcome.

At the end of this, Moses is sent by God to do His work, Moses is afraid, he knows his weaknesses, he doesn’t believe in himself, but God does, God says I will be with you. I will be with you. I will be with you when it is tough, when you are feeling overwhelmed, but God is also with us when we fail to notice what he is doing. He is patient, and all we need to know is that somewhere God is doing something that we cannot see, we need to be attentive, to keep our eyes open, to listen intently to Him, because in that seemingly non eventful moment, like the butterflies that twist and dance in the sun, there waiting for us is something to catch our eye and draw us into whatever God is doing. 

He is waiting for you, waiting for you to take notice, waiting for you to turn aside, and gaze on the flames that dance by his command.

This week, try and take notice of what God is doing, perhaps it won’t be as spectacular as the burning bush, but whatever it is, God is waiting for us to take notice, to listen deeply, to pay attention, to gaze on His Glory and His grace, Moses said Here I am, let that be our prayer to God this week, Here I am.

Amen 

 

 

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