31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
January 15, 2023
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
It was just another day at the office. Granted his office had no walls and his “co-workers” were sheep. Still, it was just another ordinary day for Moses, out shepherding his father-in-law Jethro’s flock. Ordinary until out of the corner of his eye, Moses saw that burning bush! that bush that burned and burned and never went out.
Of course, Moses stopped to wonder at this extraordinary sight. How could you not?
As he stood there watching this wondrous sight, do you think it crossed his mind that God would speak to him this way? Do you think Moses had ever expected God to speak to him in any way?
Throughout the Bible, over and over again, God shows up in people’s lives. God speaks to people, calls them to lives of service, guides them to futures of hope.
Over these coming Sundays of the Epiphany season, we are going to hear about seven Biblical people who experienced God. Seven people who never expected God to speak to them. Seven people who never expected to encounter God. Seven people whose stories will inspire us and help us expect to encounter God.
Back to Moses. I have a feeling Moses never expected God to show up in his life or to speak to him, let alone call him to this enormous ministry of freeing God’s people from Egyptian slavery. Because I imagine Moses had thoughts like we often have – ‘God only shows up to really good, practically perfect people, who spend their entire days in prayer and meditation’. And Moses was definitely not perfect. He had killed a man in Egypt and in fear run off to the “wilderness”, where he married Jethro’s daughter and was trying to lead a quiet, under the radar life. So it was unlikely Moses was walking around, thinking he was this great person who God would want to work through.
Even if Moses did think God might show up to imperfect him, I doubt Moses thought it would be in the middle of his hum drum ordinary day or through a totally mundane thing like a burning bush. You may not think a burning bush is ordinary however if you read this passage carefully, it is not the bush being on fire that catches Moses’ attention. It’s that the bush isn’t consumed. It doesn’t burn to the ground. Which gives the impression that in the middle of the desert, it wasn’t uncommon to see a burning bush.
Moses had no expectations. No expectation that God would seek out a person like him. No expectation that God would show up in the middle of his ordinary day. No expectation that God would speak to him through something as mundane as a burning bush, and still, still, there was God. Here is God.
Because God is real. God is here. God is still speaking, still intimately involved, and not just in Moses’ life and world. God shows up in our lives all of the time. God speaks to us all of the time. Even though we have flaws and make mistakes, even in the midst of the most ordinary day as we are driving to the store, washing the dishes, or taking out the trash, God is there, there with us. God is speaking to us in ways and through signs that we may completely overlook because we aren’t expecting God to be there, anymore than Moses was expecting God to show up on day 1,743 of tending sheep.
God was there though, ever single one of those days and all of the days before. God is here with us, in every single one of our days too – the ordinary and extraordinary.
At New Member gatherings, I invite everyone to share about a time when God was real in your life. And the beauty of this gathering is that most people share a story – a story of a time when they experienced God, of a time when they clearly heard God’s still speaking voice, a story of a time when God was there- just as clearly as if God was a human being present in the room.
Often these stories occurred at extraordinary times – in the midst of a medical crisis, surrounded by some particularly breath-taking creation. Those aren’t the only times and places we can experience God though. They just happen to be situations where we expect to experience God.
One of most transformational times in my life, a time when I clearly heard God calling me to ordained ministry, I was using a copy machine. And just last week, I heard God’s voice clearly telling me not to worry, not to worry about my family, about our finances, about the church or our church’s finances.
You might expect that I heard God’s voice during my time of morning prayer or while taking a walk out in the light snow we got last Thursday morning; however God spoke to me while I was running on the treadmill in our basement. God spoke to me through the totally non-religious show I was watching. Here is exactly what the characters said: “Just go to the harbor? Then what?” “He’ll have worked it out. This was the plan. It will become clear. I have faith.” (The Mysterious Benedict Society, Season 2, episode 1)
“It will become clear. I have faith.”
God is with us in times of worry and crisis, and God is with us in the midst of totally ordinary, boring days. God is with us in our kitchens, our living rooms, our offices, and every other place where we regularly go. God is with us in those familiar places and God is with us in new places, in places we consider ‘holy ground’ and in places where we would never in a million years expect to encounter God.
We can experience God’s presence everywhere- when our eyes and ears are open. When we live with the expectation that God is real, that God is really here with us, in every moment, in every place, in every time, in every situation. God is always with us, guiding us, speaking to us, showing us the way forward.
So what was a moment when you experienced God, clearly heard God’s still speaking voice, felt God leading you? When was a time God was real in your life?
Because we are a spiritual community that expects to hear God’s still speaking voice, that expects to experience God through Jesus Christ, I invite you into this time of listening and discernment, a time to expect to hear God. And following worship, I invite you to share how God is speaking to you, either by gathering at the specially designated table at fellowship or finding another way to share your real experience of God with others.