Thursday, August 28, 2014

Exodus 3:1-15

Year A - Pentecost +12 or Community Practice 12
August 31, 2014


Moses was good at noticing what was going on around him. He saw abuse and tried to put an end to it (he just chose the wrong vehicle—vigilantism won’t do what community reorganizing can do). He saw a bush.

If we connect the bush with Pentecost through flames of fire that did not consume those evidencing them, we can ask about the going into the streets to speak different languages, engage different experiences. The same is going on here with Moses being pushed out of his locked expectation about his own call and gift. A wonder is to be told. (In fact a wonder is still expected to be told by you and me and all of us together.)

Things are always more complicated than they seem. Does Moses’ response of “Here I am” trigger YHWH’s playful name of presence?

One of the more creative lookings at this passage is by Rabbis Arthur Ocean Waskow and Phyllis Ocean Berman. May it free you to look again. When Moses Burned Inside the Burning Bush

It is always good to listen in to poets talking about their choices. Here is what Everett Fox has to say about his translation of verse 14 in The Five Books of Moses 

God said to Moshe:
EHYEH ASHER EHYEH/I will be-there howsoever I will be-there.
And he said: Thus shall you say to the Children of Israel:
EHYEH/I-WILL-BE-THERE sends me to you. 
“God’s answer is one of the most enigmatic and widely debated statements in the Hebrew Bible.... What does ehyeh asher ehyeh mean? One’s suspicions are aroused from the outset, for the answer is alliterative and hence already not easy to pin down; the poetics of the phrase indicate both importance and vagueness or mystery. There is some scholarly consensus that the name may mean “He who causes (things) to be” or perhaps “He who is.” Buber and Rosenzweig, taking entirely different tack (of which one occasionally finds echoes in the scholarly literature), interpret the verb hayoh as signifying presence, “being-there,” and hence see God’s words as a real answer to the Israelites’ imagined question—an assurance of his presence. The B-R interpretation has been retained here, out of a desire to follow them on at least this significant point of theology, and out of my feeling that it also fits the smaller context. For of the several times that Moshe tries to wriggle out of his mission, God answers him all but once with the same verb, in the same meaning: “I will be-there with you” (note the parallel between Moshe and the people again).

As you proceed to wrestle with the scriptures, don’t forget to look at things in the small picture of your experience and that of your Neighb*r as well as some imagined big picture of G*D and eternity.


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