Dear Friends in Christ:
5 Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God (Exodus 3:5-6).
The Burning Bush is a well-known story in the Bible. God chose to appear to Moses in a bush that was on fire but was not being consumed. God had something important to tell Moses. God had something essential for Moses to learn as he was leading God’s people from Egypt to the Holy Land.
But first, Moses had to enter into the space that God had provided. Moses had to be made ready to hear God’s news. Moses had to connect to the source of life before he was ever going to be made ready to be the leader for the people. God demands Moses take off his shoes as he approaches the bush. Most often we have read this as a sign of respect. And it very well might be indirectly a sign of respect for Yahweh. However, I think what is more powerful here is not a narrative about manners, but rather a revelation as to how God works when he pulls you into God’s work. “Take off your shoes, because in order to do the work I have for you, you must be directly connected to me.”
The deep connection to the ground that God had made Holy was a critical part for Moses to become a leader for Israel. Moses was going to need to stay connected to God if he was going to serve God. There couldn’t be anything standing between God and Moses, not even shoes. I think in the modern culture, we often think about how faith can benefit us. Or how we might need to grow into a fuller knowing of what God wants. But very seldom do we ask ourselves how we can be made into Holy Ground for others to come to know God. How is it that God makes us a part of what God is doing in the world?
One Jewish Midrash (teaching) around this text, states that Moses had to take off his sandals because they were made of animal hides. In fact, dead animal hides. This is where the real power of the story takes place in the change of Moses. Moses has to take off his sandals made of dead flesh, because nothing of death can sit in the presence of the God of Life. I think this is a very powerful image for us today. What parts of us are no longer helping lead to life? What certainties have we come to that need to be “taken off” when we come into the presence of God? How is God remolding us, and removing parts of us, so that we can be a part of the way God works through life? How are we being made into Holy Ground for the sake of the world and those around us? Seems like some good questions to ponder as we head into the “Fall” season.
We, as a church, are called to be holy ground for others to come and learn about the love and light of Jesus Christ. We are called to be part of that which encourages and lifts up the life that God has in store for the church. And this takes hard work, time and sacrifice. Each of us is an important part in the Mission of God. Also, each of us needs to be brought into this Holy Ground through God’s ways and intentions. Each of us, over our lifetimes, is called to give our lives back to God, again and again, so that we might be made Holy Ground.