Thursday's Thought for Sunday's Service 

August 31, 2017

Dear Friends,

This week’s Thursday’s Thought for Sunday’s Service is based upon Exodus 3:1–15:

“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.” Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.”

                                       (Exodus 3:1–15, NIV)

A name, one that will remembered beyond death is rare.  Even rarer in history is a name that will echo beyond two or three generations.  Still, it has happened.

How has this been accomplished?  It's sometimes occurred because someone has created a world changing invention; or by being the leader of an important or influential political movement; or by rising to become a successful military leader.  In these cases, the name of a famous person is inscribed in stone, or an image is set in metal statuary to be venerated across many years, even centuries. But inscriptions and statues eventually disappear from the landscape.  They become forgotten in lieu of others who are at least equally, or even more famous.

Compared to any plaque or statue, the name of our Lord continues to far eclipse any of the most memorable, longest lasting heroes of any age.  Why is this?  In part, God is not so much remembered through stone or metal, rather carried forward through time via a living memory shared by hearts and minds of those who believe, even beyond any idol we create for God.  In this way, the divine nature of God identified through the name, “I am who I am,” reverberates through time.

Like Moses, wherever we might find ourselves, in a church building, at home, outdoors …encountering God feels like the same metaphorical place… holy ground.  In thinking about “taking off my shoes,” to draw close to God in such a space, I easily become aware of how I will likely not be remembered as a unique individual.  This comes by connecting with Moses’ answer to God’s imperative, “So now, go…”  Moses' weak, very human reply is, “Who am I?”  God’s answer was simply, “I will be with you.” 

Although Moses faced questions and challenges which remained to be asked of him by the Pharaoh on one hand and the Israelites on the other, simply pointing to the living name of God was… and still is, enough.

It’s not about how Moses could have attached his acclaim etched upon some monument.

It’s more about how he was dispatched to proclaim God’s name from the mountaintop,

“'The Lord, the God of your fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, -- has sent me to you.'  This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.” 


Rev. Richard Wagner