Sunday, April 16, 2017

Encountering Holy Ground

Reflection for Easter Monday

by Amber Slate

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.  Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.”  When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”  Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:1-5, NRSV)

All of creation is aflame with the glory of God.  This is the claim that informs the Eastern Orthodox interpretation of the story of Moses and the burning bush.  In the story I learned in Sunday school, the burning bush represented a miraculous event that Moses encountered on Mount Horeb. However, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the burning bush represents the true state of all nature.  Moses is simply given the holy perception to glimpse how all of life is aflame with the glory of God.  The flames do not consume the bush because the fire is God’s eternal presence encompassing the material world. 

What would happen if we had the eyes to see all of creation in the same way that Moses did that day he was tending a flock of sheep in the wilderness?  How would our relationship with the places where we are rooted change if we perceived them to be aflame with the glory and presence of God? Like Moses, you can encounter holy ground.  Thanks to the wisdom of our Eastern Orthodox sisters and brothers, we are reminded that this holy ground is not just found on the Mountain of God, but also in our very own places.  Today, I invite you to consider a way that you could symbolically remove your sandals and honor the way God sets creation in your place aflame with holiness.

Prayer: Creator God, may your holy presence in our lives and in the created world move us to honor you by acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with you in the places you set aflame with your glory. 

Amber Slate is a fourth year M. Div./M.A. student at Princeton Theological Seminary. Previously, she worked for five years at Sammamish Presbyterian Church where she was director of the middle school ministry. She grew up on a farm in Eastern Washington and wonders if one day she will get to be pastor of a church that would be excited about having goats.

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