Theme – Holy Conversations – God and the Creative Word
Scripture – Genesis 4:1-3 Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.
Moses is not only shocked that a bush is burning, or that it is speaking to him, but that when it speaks, it is the voice of God calling. Holy Conversations whether with the Divine or with one another hold the potential to shock and surprise. Moses cannot, will not, believe what he is hearing in this conversation. And so most of his side of the conversation is resistance. Much like some of the Easter morning stories there is some hesitancy to the new that the new that the word of God calls into being and calls us to respond to. Think of Thomas. He will not believe.
Because Moses cannot and will not believe what the divine conversation is revealing, God ups the ante and uses words to be creative. The staff in Moses' hand is suddenly a snake and then, not a snake. It is a fanciful story and one that may seem of little relevance to our lives and experience. But I would suggest first that it is a playful and entertaining way of reminding us of something that the Bible proclaims from the very beginning. The word of God creates. Light, land, sea, sky, all created by God's conversation. God's word calls things into being that were not previously possible. And God calls that creation Good. God's creative conversation is an on-going blessing.
Our words are not as powerful as God's creative word, but they are powerful. A word of loving encouragement or welcome can create a whole new world for one whose life experience has been rejection or demoralization. An impassioned speaker can inspire us to personal growth and risky action for the communal good as Dr. King's 'I Have a Dream,' speech or Lincoln's Gettysburg address illustrated.
We live in a culture in which the sacred nature of conversation seems lost. Too often conversation falls too far into tension, becoming confrontational and divisive. And it is too easy to stop listening and simply formulate argument for debate. The story of Moses and the Burning Bush reminds us of the sacredness of conversing and the vital importance of remaining open to surprise. Surprising conversation lead, eventually to liberation and the discovery of new life when that conversation is carried out in the spirit of God's creative word that calls the new into being.
Prayer - Remind me Lord, at the beginning of a new week, of the sacred possibilities that lay before me in the conversations I will have with family, friends, co-workers, even strangers. Help me not to rush past the chances to allow someone to be listened to and heard, to share an encouraging word, to share a story so that someone knows that they are not alone in the world. Be present with me and through me in every conversation, I pray.