Holy Ground

Good morning!  Did you get your ash in church last night?

Today’s scripture:

Acts 7:30-34 (NRSV)

30 “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt.’

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One of my favorite preachers of all time is a woman by the name of Barbara Brown Taylor and I remember so clearly the first time I heard her preach….
I was just beginning my journey of ministry and I went to the Festival of Homiletics. It is basically comicon for preachers. We really nerd it up when we talk about preaching and exegesis and…crazy things like…eschatology and…well, you get the idea. This conference is highlighting the best preachers. They preach and then they lecture about preaching. You get to see them in their art and then you get tips. I love it. I have been 3 times and gain sooo much each time I go.

Back to Barbara…I remember her sermon so clearly because she walked up to the pulpit and just before entering the space to preach she took off her shoes and then stepped up into the pulpit to give us the word. She was standing on holy ground.  She knew that her job was so much not her ego and her space that she took off her shoes to acknowledge God in our midst.

Our Acts passage is about remembering what it means to be on holy ground. This is the storyteller retelling the story of the people of Moses. It is not the exodus passage but it is the retelling of the Exodus to a people who have forgotten what it means to take off their shoes. They had forgotten about God creating space to be holy. They had forgotten what it was like to take off their sandals and recognize the holiness around them.

Don’t we also need reminders? This season is full of them. Last night as we were marked with ash, it because sacred and holy. I almost took off my shoes. Sometimes I wander down to the sanctuary, kick off my shoes and pray. I desperately need the reminders of holiness in the mundane and every day. When Moses approached the bush, he had probably been in that spot a million times before and never noticed the holiness of it. God takes the ordinary, the everyday and lights it on fire….if we but look and take space and take off our shoes.

What is holy ground for you? Where will you take off your shoes and stay for a bit? Can you find some today?

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