After fleeing from the anger of Pharoh, Moses had found home and family and vocation in the wilderness of Midian. He was tending the flocks of his father-in-law when he looked up to Mount Horeb, which the people called the mountain of God, and saw a bush that was burning and yet was not consumed.
God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”
He answered, “Here I am.”
Then God said, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
Moses turned aside to see a wonder and ended up on holy ground hearing the voice of God. What places have been holy to you? Hopefully the sanctuary and the chapel give you the experience of a holy place, but there are other places where we meet God. It is sometimes in those places outside of Church where we are surprised by God’s presence that we can best sense the gravity of such an encounter; when we are in places we don’t expect to find God, and yet God is there.
I have sensed the holiness of places like the hospital rooms of the dying. The rooms in which my children were born had an atmosphere of holiness. So does the picnic table where I asked my wife to marry me. There are places that help us to see God’s hand and presence in our stories. The wilderness itself, God’s raw creation, reminds us that we are God’s creatures and inhabit a thing of his wonderful making.
Advent reminds us to take the shoes off our feet. The time we are entering is holy time. I am a lucky man. I work only a few steps from the sanctuary. I can walk in at any time of the day to see the advent wreath and to imagine the flames moving in their slow journey around until the flame also inhabits the white candle of Christmas.
Many of the spaces we will find ourselves in this season are not so conducive to reminding us of holiness. We will find ourselves in places of hustle and bustle and business and busyness. Our own homes may even take on a more chaotic nature in this time of year. But there is good news: God is not confined to the sanctuary, nor was he confined to the bush that burned but was not consumed. That is how Moses found him then and there, but he was and is always more than that.
Moses tells God that if he does what God has asked of him and goes to preach freedom to the Hebrews and that the God of their fathers has ordained it, that they will ask what is his name. God says, “thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am,’ has sent me to you.” God’s own name is a statement of His being and reality, and since God is God, He is everywhere.
Remember this season, no matter where you find yourself, that we are on holy ground. Look for God and you will find God in the most unexpected places.