“The angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.” Exodus 3:2
The story of Moses and the burning bush is a Sunday school “favourite”. It has all the necessary ingredients of drama, mystery, suspense and action to hold children’s attention. To briefly recap: Moses was minding his father-in-law’s sheep near Mount Horeb when he saw a burning bush. When he went to take a closer look, God spoke to him telling him He had seen the plight of his people who were held captive as slaves in Egypt and was about to do something about it. God promised to release his people from captivity and take them to a land “flowing with milk and honey”. He continued to tell Moses that He had chosen him to be the one to lead his people out of captivity to that Promised Land. Moses was shocked and protested that he lacked the necessary skills and abilities to undertake such a task. In response, Moses’ brother Aaron was appointed as his spokesman and even when God gave him miraculous powers such as turning his rod into a serpent, Moses still wanted to know by whose authority he should introduce himself to the captives he was meant to help free. To this, God replied, “I AM WHO I AM”. And told him to say “I AM has sent me to you”. Exodus 3:14
Upon hearing or reading this story as adults, we are inclined to ask more forensic questions such as how this may have taken place and even, is the story true? However, as with most stories from the earlier part of the Bible, to ask “is it true?” is to miss the point entirely. The much more appropriate question (and the one used by people of Biblical times) is “what does this story mean?” In answering that question, we will find that a number of interesting possibilities present themselves. First, God does not usually act remotely from afar, but uses people like you and me to carry out his work. Second, God does not always choose those who are perceived to have all the necessary skills and talents. Third, God does not leave those who He has chosen to do everything on their own, but provides others to assist. Fourth, God calling himself, “I AM” informs us that He is not confined by past, present or future, but is eternally present.
You may well wonder what inspired this reflection on Moses and the “burning bush”. Many will know that in the Church grounds here in Tullow, we have an Azalea shrub known by that name. At the time of writing, the shrub is laden with buds and will, weather permitting, be in full bloom in early June. (It is an indication of the lateness of our spring this year as it normally blooms in mid-May.) However, in previous years, when in full bloom, it has attracted considerable attention from passersby and numerous photographers have employed their skills in capturing its beauty.
On a different note, as we head into the month of June, we remember all those who are preparing for State Examinations and their families. It can be a very stressful time for all concerned. We also remember those who have undertaken third level examinations as they await results. We wish them all every blessing and may it be our prayer that all their hard work will be justly rewarded.
With every blessing,
Rev’d John Tanner.
Tel: 01-289 3154 / 086 302 1376