Saturday, August 30, 2008

Turn Aside To See--a guided meditation for Ordinary 22A

Rev. Teri Peterson
Turn Aside To See
Exodus 3.1-15
August 31 2008, Ordinary 22A

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the
Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ 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.

Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’

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?’ 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.” ’ 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 for ever,
and this my title for all generations.


Today we will walk in the footsteps of Moses.
In invite you to close your eyes.
Put your feet flat on the floor, sit up straight, and be comfortable.
Take a deep breath in, and let it out slowly.
Take a deep breath in, and let it out slowly.

Picture yourself doing something you do every day.
Where are you?
What is around you?
What sounds do you hear?
What do you smell?
What colors do you see?
How do you feel in this everyday place, doing your everyday task?

In the midst of the ordinary, everyday-ness of your place, glance to one side.
There is something there—you can’t quite make it out, it seems out of place.
Are you curious?
Look harder—can you see it?
Will you leave your busy-ness, your schedule, your plans to step off your beaten path?
What’s stopping you from stepping out of the rush, from turning aside to see?

Go ahead—turn aside to see.
The colors are dancing,
heat is coming off in waves,
sparks are flying,
but the bush is not burned up—it’s still there, green as ever, with berries ripe for the picking.
What are you thinking?
What are you feeling?
Are you curious?

Suddenly you hear something—faint, at first, but definitely coming out of the flames.
Listen closely, what is it saying?
your name.
Will you answer?
It seems silly to talk to a bush, especially one on fire.
But the voice is compelling.
What will you say?
Moses said, and Samuel said, and Mary said, “Here I am.”
What will you say?

Again, the voice:
take off your shoes—this is holy ground.
Go ahead—if you can reach, take off your shoes and then close your eyes again.
This is holy ground.
Feel it—solid, cool in spite of the heat coming from the bush.
Feel it—shifting as flames speak and you know something big is coming.
Feel it—holy, sacred, made by God for this moment.
Holy Ground.

One little turn off the beaten path and we’ve ended up here, barefoot on holy ground.

The voice again:
I’m God.
Not just any god, but God—the God of your ancestors, the God who created all this, the God who called people and blessed them, the God who called people to be a blessing to others.
What will you do now?
Moses, shoeless Moses, hid his face—afraid to look at God.
What will you do now?

The burning bush is not God—it is an instrument of God.
Look into it—stare into the flames.
See the shapes, the life, the passion, the swirl of color.
You turned aside to see—now, see.
You took off your shoes to feel God’s holy ground—now, feel.
What will you do?

You can turn away.
You can hide your face.
You can go back to your daily life and keep a secret.
You can go back to your daily life with a great story.
You can put on your shoes and walk.
Or you can stand on this holy ground,

God’s voice, yet again…
I have plans.
For you.
For my people.
For the world.
I need your help.

Your help.
What is your first thought?
What is your second thought?
How can you help God?
Why you?
What does God mean by “help” exactly?
Are you feeling a little crazy?
Wondering if you should be listening to a plant or a fire?
Looking around to see if anyone has noticed?
Hoping you’re hearing voices or that this is all a dream?

God’s voice, again…
Yes, you.
You are the one I have chosen.
You, standing here on this holy ground.
You, who turned aside to see.
You, who can do far more than you realize.
You, the one staring at your feet and thinking you aren’t good enough.
And then God says:
I will go with you.
My name is I AM—and I will always be.
I’m not just a thing, not just a person, not just a verb—I AM.
I AM God.
I AM the God of your ancestors.
I AM the maker of all things.
I AM the One who called you.
I AM love.
and I WILL go with you.

Listen again—
God is telling you what you have been chosen for.
God is calling you…to what?

Your hands,
your heart,
your ears,
your eyes,
your feet…
made holy,
made for a call,
made for carrying good news.

Will you turn aside
to stand on holy ground
to hear the blessing
and to hear the challenge
and to hear the promise,
and then to go out into the world with holy bare feet?

When you are ready,
take a deep breath, let it out slowly
and look down at your feet.
Open your eyes to see the holy ground.
Then turn and see your holy neighbors,
companions on the way,
fellow workers in God’s world.

Thanks be to God.


  1. wish I could be there to experience this - well written as it - kind of hard to self-guide by reading and thinking (the keeping the eyes shut thing gets in the way)....this is really really good.