On Monday, we held the first session of our Zoom Lent course. The reading we looked at is from Exodus Chapter 3:
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
This is one of my favourite readings from the Old Testament. Here we learn a great deal about the nature of God and his love for his people.
But we also learn that when God called Moses he did not leave him to carry out His will on his own. Firstly, God promises Moses that he will never be on his own. Later, God also sends Aaron to help Moses, to be his ‘voice’.
God calls us to do His work here on earth, but He will never leave us unequipped. Firstly, he is always with us, through thick and thin, when the going is easy and, most especially when the going gets tough. However, he will also provide us with what we need for the task, in the shape of others to support, care and pray for us.
Whilst I was training for ministry, my father and best friend both died. They had been two of my greatest supporters and sources of encouragement. I wondered if I would get through the rest of the training, but shortly after my father died, we had a new associate minister arrive at my church from Texas. He was, and remains, a wonderful mentor and friend and he came just as I was wavering and full of fear. God did not leave me alone but equipped me to carry on.
Secondly, God calls Moses while he is out tending his flock, something he did every day. We may not see a burning bush, but God most often calls us through the everyday, the commonplace and the familiar. Some people are called, like Moses, to completely change their lives, to take risks and put themselves in challenging places. Others have quieter callings, to be the light of Christ where they are, in their community, among their friends and family.
Whatever our own calling and response to God, one thing is sure. That we never know when we are standing on holy ground. Even in the ordinariness of our lives, we never know when we are going to encounter God and what he might be calling us to do. I am always reminded of one of the last lines of one of my favourite books by J D Salinger: “Seymour once said that all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next”.
With this letter is a newsletter from Tom Tame, our Youth Pioneer, working in Chard and around the Deanery. Tom answered God’s call to move to Somerset and take up this work, trusting that God would not leave him on his own. He is already equipping himself by building up a team of volunteers to go out and meet with youngsters where they congregate. Tom is supported by the Diocese and through networks of other pioneers. He is now asking for our support by asking us to pray for him. I hope that you will do this as he sets out on this exciting venture and pray that he will find holy ground in many different places.
At the end of our Lent course, we were asked to take the following prayer from the Book of Numbers and say it quietly or silently for some of the people we talk to or pass by, for homes of people we know and for schools, offices, shops and farms we may pass on our walks. We might also say it for people or situations that we see on our TVs or hear about on our radios:
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6: 24-26)
A simple prayer, but if we were all to be silently saying this for others, think how powerful that would be.