by Rev. Sara Yoos
Exodus 2:23-25; 3:1-15; 4:10-17
The story of God’s people is the story of the relationship between a small nomadic tribe, the land, and the empire of the day. Today we focus on the story of Moses, the enslaved Israelites, and the empire of Egypt. It begins with God noticing the oppressed. “I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters” (v7) “I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them” (v9)
Let us begin by noticing the oppressed in our empire. Who are the minorities in our midst and how is the system oppressing them? In what ways are we suspicious and fearful of those who are different? How are we striving for control, security, and certainty – and what effect does this have on them?
After hearing their groans, God responds. God shows up to Moses in a burning bush and calls him into action. Why a burning bush? Eric Law surmises, “The burning bush, aside from being a symbol of the calling of Moses, becomes the image of hope in the brittle state of interracial relations in this country. God takes a symbol of fear, rage and destruction and turns it into an empowering symbol that moves Moses into action – to liberate the children of Israel from slavery.” Law extends the metaphor throughout his book as an invitation to face the fire (chaos, conflict, danger) as an opportunity to witness the presence of God and grow in mutual understanding, creative reconciling, and peacemaking.
There are plenty of fires raging in our country and world right now. Just last week our president threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” in front of the UN. Empires only care about empire; they are not concerned with peacemaking or caring for the poor and least among them. Do we remain silent in the face of these fires? Do we run away or avoid it? Do we become fire ourselves? As long as we displace God from the fire, the fires will spread rage, fear and destruction. We must remember God is bigger than any empire. Law encourages us to “invite God to enter the unholy fire and sanctify it, transforming it into the burning bush… With God’s presence we can create a holy ground, where people can face each other on level ground, neither winning nor losing. With God’s creative power, we can transform the fire from being a destructive, energy-draining, and spirit-dampening force into a creative, empowering, and spirit-filled light.”
Moses protests God’s call to action, questioning - who am I to stand up to an empire? And how? Many people shy away from the fire with similar excuses: My voice doesn’t matter. I don’t have any power. What difference can I make? Politics should be kept separate from work/ entertainment/ faith.
Sunday football became an unlikely source of protest this week as nearly all NFL players kneeled during the national anthem. This small sign of resistance to the empire did not require eloquence or words. The act spoke for itself. Resisting the empire’s systems of racism and oppression in order to uphold the dignity of people is exactly what Moses’ call was. It continues to be God’s call to the people.
 Eric H.F. Law, The Bush Was Blazing But Not Consumed (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1996), 8.
 Law, 25.