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you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”
13 But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:
This is my name forever,
and this my title for all generations.
Moses, Moses, Moses: a baby, a Hebrew baby, in a basket, in an Egyptian river; a prince raised in Pharaoh’s palace; an eyewitness to a beating; a killer and a fugitive running; a mountain-side shepherd beyond the wilderness in Midian. Now, Moses sees a burning bush and hears a voice.
In previous weeks we have already seen that weather is never just weather and water is never just water. Let’s add wilderness to the list. The text says Moses is even beyond the wilderness. Wilderness is never just wilderness. Whoever enters the wilderness emerges with a new way of perceiving, a new vision of how the world works, a new understanding of how they see themselves. Or they don’t emerge at all.
All of this happens before “Let my people go!” (the Exodus) and before “Thou shalt not... (the Ten Commandments)”. This story is the first visit of Moses to the mountain. That mountain is sometimes known as “Horeb” and other times as “Sinai”. It is the same mountain he returns to after leading the Israelites out of Egypt.
After seeing the bush, and hearing the voice, Moses receives the name of God. The name is represented by four letters, YHWH. From the Hebrew verb “to be”, it is translated as “I AM WHO I AM”.
A mountain-side shepherd with a long history goes up the mountain. Who emerges?
The most effective questions and activities (ENGAGE)—the ones that help participants connect their story with God’s story each week—are often those that are based on your personal knowledge of the participants and where they are. Listen carefully to their responses; ask follow-up questions that help them reflect on the text and their lives, right now, right where they are.
(What’s happening in the story?)
1. What was Moses doing when he came across the burning bush? Where was he tending his flock?
2. What does Moses notice about the bush? What happens when he goes to investigate the mysterious burning?
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