I spent this past weekend attending the 45th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. That’s not entirely true. I did a whole lot more than just attend. As Convention began, I was elected at Secretary, which meant I got to sit at the table set aside for the Scribes and Pharisees. It was my job to, at any given moment, be thinking three or four steps ahead, ensuring that the Convention would run smoothly, that speakers would be given enough advanced warning, that canonical requirements would be fulfilled, and, perhaps most importantly, that potty breaks would be provided. When I wasn’t sitting up on the dais, there was a line of two or three people who were trying to speak with me at any given moment. Looking ahead can mean a well run convention, but when it comes to talking with people, answering their questions, and handling there concerns, there is only one place to be: the present, and I’ve never been more keenly aware of the need to be present than I was this weekend.
I suppose my weekend experience is spilling over into my preaching prep for this week, as I’m finding myself fascinated with Moses and the burning bush. In a world that is full of people doing this:
the story of Moses actually seeing this amazing sight is something of a novelty.
But Moses saw the burning bush, and the course of his life was changed yet again. Moses story really begins with Pharaoh’s daughter seeing the basket made of reeds that Moses’ mother had placed him in rather than allowing him to be killed. He was forced into a self-imposed exile after he saw a Hebrew slaving being treated harshly. Moses saw the burning bush, God saw the suffering of the Hebrew people, and Moses saw God face-to-face on Mount Sinai.
Again and again, the story of God and Moses and the Hebrew people is marked by seeing. By being present to what is happening in the moment, Moses became a servant of God, a prophet unlike any other.
I have a hard time being present. I’m really good at focusing on the mistakes of the past. I’m an expert at worrying about the needs of the future. I’m highly skilled at getting lost on Facebook or deep down a rabbit hole of theological quagmire. If I can learn anything from the story of Moses and the burning bush it is this: that God might use me to change the world, but in order for that to happen, I’ve got to see his hand at work, and to see God’s hand at work, I’ve got to be aware of what is happening in my present time and place.