Text: Exodus 3: 1-6
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
Rev Abraham Varghese in his Documentary “Kick Kill Kinder” shows the impact of video games on youths and children. Apart from the violence it simulates and celebrates, the greatest impact of it is that children and youths have no excitement and wonder that makes life meaningful. The world of Virtual Reality is so spectacular and splendid that the world we live in fails to stimulate or excite. Everything is boring. In a recent survey done in Tokyo, Japan, Psychologist expressed shock that children under 12 have lost awe and wonder for everything. Even the prospect of travelling to the moon does not excite them. Similarly in a world of 24/7 News and Reality TV we have become numb to life. Nothing shocks us. Nothing excites us. Everything is normal. Nothing shakes us up. We have got used to people dying in bomb blasts. We are bored of the statistics of children dying of hunger. To shock us we need something more catastrophic.
In such a context we understand that Moses was out on a very mundane task of tending the flock. Burning bushes were a common feature then. It was everywhere. Moses could have easily missed it. But Moses slows down and says “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” This strange sight excited him. He was filled with wonder. This awe and wonder is the initiating point into his great ministry of liberating Israelites from slavery. Just for a moment imagine if Moses had missed the Burning Bush? Moses saw the Burning Bush. God spoke to him through this burning bush. God commissioned Moses to liberate Israelites at the Burning Bush. Seeing the Burning Bush was important.
Let us look at the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus is talking about Judgment. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25: 41-45)
In this passage the problem with people was that they did not see the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the sick and the prisoner. Funny part the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the sick and the prisoner were all over the place. It was a routine sight. Nothing new or exciting. They got used to it. The pain and need of the people did not challenge them into action. The Judgment was on the excuse that they had eyes and they did not ‘See’.
Today we live in a world of spectacles. We are saturated with information and visuals. Nothing excites us. We have become apathetic to our neighbourhood. There are many burning bushes around us. But we do not bother to stop. We do not wait to see. We have become blind. Jesus commands us to slow down. He says “Take a break you who are in a mad rush. Slow down you who are determined by deadlines. Look around you who have eyes but do not see. Listen up, you who have ears but do not hear.” Let us stop for a while and ask ourselves, are we missing our Burning Bush. I will leave you with a parable that has helped me a lot. I have used it in many of my sermons as I feel it talks to all of us.
A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. With music on and the glasses rolled up he was enjoying the bliss of speed. But suddenly a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door! He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, “What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?” The young boy was apologetic. “Please, mister…please! I’m sorry but I didn’t know what else to do,” he pleaded. “I threw the brick because no one else would stop. I have been asking for help for the past two hours!” With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the child pointed to a spot just around a parked car. “It’s my brother,” he said. “He rolled off and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.” Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.” Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and nursed the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. “Thank you and May God bless you,” the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent When the friends at office asked him why he was not repairing the dent, He answered. “I need that dent to remind me not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!”
John Ortberg, the author of ‘The Life You’ve Always Wanted’ says that when he went to his spiritual mentor for an advice to have a more meaningful and spiritual life. His mentor gave him just one advice. “Learn the Art of Slowing Down. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Let us stop. Let us ‘See’ the Burning Bush.
Rev Merin Mathew
Mar Thoma Syrian Church