Our opening prayer
God of wonder, creator of all things. You are the God of the whole universe for the greatest to the smallest, amidst all that is you also know us by name, by the number of hairs on our heads. You call us into Your presence and to reveal it with those around us. Wherever we gather, wherever we gather, You are present making every space a sacred space. May our worship increase our awareness of Your beating heart wherever we are worshiping this morning, at the centre of our daily lives, surprising us with Your wonder, calming our fears and restoring our souls, remind us once more that we are beloved of You. Amen.
Old Testament Reading – Exodus 3:1-15
Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock deep into the wilderness, Moses came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The messenger of YHWH appeared to Moses in a blazing fire from the midst of a thornbush. Moses saw—“The bush is ablaze with fire, and yet it isn’t consumed!” Moses said, “Let me go over and look at this remarkable sight—and see why the bush doesn’t burn up!” When YHWH saw Moses coming to look more closely, God called out to him from the midst of the bush: “Moses! Moses!” Moses answered, “I am here.” God said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground! “I am the God of your ancestors,” the voice continued, “the God of Sarah and Abraham, the God of Rebecca and Isaac, the God of Leah and Rachel and Jacob!” Moses hid his face, afraid to look at the Holy One. Then YHWH said, “I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt; I have heard their cries under those who oppress them; I have felt their sufferings. Now I have come down to rescue them from the hand of Egypt, out of their place of suffering, and bring them to a place that is wide and fertile, a land flowing with milk and honey—the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the children of Israel has reached me, and I have watched how the Egyptians are oppressing them. Now, go! I will send you to Pharaoh, to bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?” God answered, “I will be with you, and this is the sign by which you will know that it is I who have sent you: after you bring my people out of Egypt, you will all worship at this very mountain.” “But,” Moses said, “when I go to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is this god’s name?’ what am I to tell them?” God replied, “I AM AS I AM. This is what you will tell the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God spoke further to Moses: “Tell the children of Israel: ‘YHWH, the ‘I AM,’ the God of your ancestors, the God of Sarah and Abraham, of Rebecca and Isaac, of Leah and Rachel and Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my Name forever; this is the name you are to remember for all generations.
… Moses looks at the burning bush and he sees that it’s a miracle because he has looked closely, his eyes are truly open, his heart is open, his life is open. He is ready to receive whatever wonder God puts in front of him. We, too, stand in front of the burning bush. It still burns. It’s up to us to practice opening our lives, on every level, so that we can see all of the miracles which are right in front of us. So often, we go through our days spiritually asleep: our eyes may be open, but we’re so caught up in our anxieties or frustrations or distractions, in our belief in what we already know what is going to happen, we have plans and our life experiences tell us what to expect, we go about, as I saw someone on holiday doing, paddling with wellington boots on and in doing that we don’t get the full experience of God’s presence right in front of us. We don’t feel the warmth on the water lapping our skin, the sand between our toes, the receding wave pulling the sand from beneath our feet, the sun drying our skin and the salt that is left behind …