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Holy Ground

Exodus 3: 1-6

Life has been pretty hectic for me since Christmas; quite a bit of travelling and meeting lots of people.  All of which is wonderful but the busier I am the harder I find it to maintain the rhythm of prayer consistently.  For me, the result is both a sense of being “scattered” and also a longing for stillness and intimacy with God.

For Lent I have picked up a book, Lent for Busy People edited by Shelagh Brown and the first few days are written by Sister Margaret Magdalen.  She has taken me back to the Exodus passage where we read of the encounter between God and Moses at the burning bush:

'So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.’  When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am".  "Do not come any closer," God said "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground".'  Exodus 3:3-5

Margaret makes the point that the Lord tells Moses to take off his sandals because once stillness in God’s presence is reached, we don’t need to be rushing off to the next thing.  We are called to take our shoes off, to settle down and to rest in God’s presence and simply be with him.  I also liked that sense that when God sees that Moses is paying attention, he calls to him!

Before I started, formally, in the role of General Secretary, I went on retreat with the Northumbria Community; I wanted to start as I meant to go on!  As part of that time I went on a long walk with God and he showed me lots of things on the way.  Towards the end of the journey I left the road I was on and walked across the end of a field and found myself heading down into a wooded glade with a stream running along the bottom.  By the stream it was so still.  As I sat down and lingered there, I could see the sunlight filtering through the trees, hear the gentle sound of the stream and smell the richness of the warm earth.  As I sat there God showed me that he is always there, waiting, not far from the main road of life and that I need to take regular little detours to be still with him.  This passage from Exodus reminded me of this encounter and of the continual invitation of God to take those opportunities to step aside and be still with Him.  As we 'go over to look', God is there calling us and, like Moses, we are able to respond, “Here I am.”

Lent is a time for refocusing on the Lord and an invitation to match our step with God’s Spirit more closely once more.  Maybe you would like to join me in pondering this passage and rediscovering the blessing and intimacy of stillness in God’s presence?

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