the call

- Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28

Moses is minding his own business. He is tending his father-in-law’s flock when, so says the text, “he led his flock beyond the wilderness.” Beyond the wilderness? In other words, he is way out of bounds, far beyond civilization, out in the marginal places. Perhaps somewhere far up the west coast, far from voice mail and internet access. Or maybe down an alley littered with needles and broken lives. Or maybe it is an inner place, beyond the wilderness of grief, in a place of great risk and possibility. This is what Moses discovers. He learns that beyond the wilderness lies the mountain of God, the place where an angel of the LORD appears in a flame of fire. It is an odd discovery. There is a bush on fire, a tumbleweed across the valley. At first he does not take much notice of it. But he looks again later and sees that it is still burning. And later it is burning still. The bush draws him closer. It should be consumed by the fire but it just keeps on burning. My friend Doug was raised in the Presbyterian church. It is from the Presbyterians that we in The United Church of Canada have received the burning bush as one of the four symbols on our church crest. Doug is the one who taught me that this is how Presbyterians think of the church. They notice that it is always in the process of falling apart, burning up, surely dying out … and yet, against all logic and against all odds, the church continues to burn. It is not consumed. It draws us in closer, close enough to hear the voice - the voice that is not the voice of the church but the voice of God.