Wiggle your toes in ʾadāmâ.

A sermon for Proper 17

Exodus 3:1-15 , Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c, Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 16:21-28

I’ve wondered, have you ever wondered, how long that bush burned? Not before someone walked by, although it is in the wilderness, but how long it was before someone saw it? How long was it before someone paid enough attention to see that it didn’t burn? How long it was before someone was simply curious? How long? We don’t know, we can’t know. We do know Moses came by, saw the ever burning bush, and was curious. (Fretheim) You know what they say about curiosity and cats; well Moses survives, but his life is forever changed.

As soon as Moses turns aside, the bush starts talking; telling him to take his sandals off, and revealing its identity as the God of his father, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses in an act of submission removes his sandals;  (Brueggemann) {I know a bishop, who removes his shoes at the altar, wearing simple slippers,} he also hides his face, honoring God’s holiness and sovereignty. (Brueggemann)

And then his bare feet touch the ground. There is nothing between him, and the ʾadāmâ (Strong’s) the ground from which he, we, are made. This is the ground of life, hosting the trees of life and knowledge, binding him, and us, to each other, to all creation. It’s the ground humanity’s envy caused to be cursed. And it’s the ground that welcomes us back after out last breath. It’s ʾadāmâ. In some sense Moses stands reborn in the presence of God As his bare feet feel the ground, he knows he’s released from what bound him; he is free to accept new life, a new calling. (Portier-Young)

The burning bush continues: I have seen, I have heard, I know, I have come to deliver them; and to bring them to a good and broad land. So, come, I am sending you to Pharaoh. Moses understand at once what is happening. God is making all these grand promises, and he not God, is the agent on the ground, he will face all Pharaoh’s imperial power. (Brueggemann) Whoa! stop, send me? to Pharaoh? you know he wants my head? Besides, who am I? God reassures him, “I’ll be with you, and one day you and your people will worship here.” I don’t know about you, but someday sounds a bit noncommittal. (Hoezee)

Moses has a second objection. Who am I to tell the sons of Israel is sending me to them; surely they will ask me for a name? The bush replies: I am who I am! ~ “I am who I am?” What kind of name is that? (CEP) The Egyptian gods have names like: Isis, Horus, Osiris, Ra, and Anubis. Those are divine names. “I am who I am”

Ever since then, we’ve been trying to figure that out. And we haven’t, and yet we have. The grammar etc. doesn’t get it done. But the promise does the context of the revealing evokes enduring fidelity, and presence. It connects the ancient story of Moses’ people, to their future, a new future no one could envision. (Brueggemann) Just as Moses removing his saddles, and hiding his face honors God’s space, God’s name gives Moses, ~ gives us, space to join the conversation about the future. (Fretheim) If nothing else Moses has a new inkling of who he is, and of who God is. (Fretheim)


I don’t know how long it’s been present. I don’t know how long or if you’ve seen it. I don’t know how long I’ve really seen it. I know this morning is that we are called to turn aside. We are not enslaved, not trapped, with no vision for a future as the sons of Israel are. However, just like the sons of Israel we are at a point of transition. We are not who we remember ourselves to be. Blytheville, Mississippi County, NE Arkansas, the entire Delta region is not what we remember it to be. The truth is no one and no place is, change is a reality of life in every age. In some times and in some places the changes are perceived as good. The changes here are well difficult, long in coming, and complicated. Like the Delta St. Stephen’s has been at a point of significant transition. What was, isn’t going to be again. What is, ~ well no one knows. And in that respect, we are a bit like Moses. We’ve been called to turn aside, to take our shoes, or boots, off and wiggle our toes is the ground, the ʾadāmâ from which we are made, which connects us to each other and all creation. We’ve been called to claim the freedom from whatever binds, and hinders us. We’ve been called to stand reborn in God’s presence. We’re being invited to participate in shaping our own future. And no, I’ve no idea what it looks like; I’ve no idea how to get there; I’ve no idea how long it will take; all I know is the invitation is there and that we will not journey alone. Wiggle your toes in ʾadāmâ, find your footing in new life. Amen.



Works Cited

Brueggemann, Walter. The New Intrepreter’s Bible. Ed. Leander E Keck. Vol. Exodus. Abbingdon Press, 2003.

Fretheim, Terence E. Interpretation A BIBLE COMMENTARY FOR TEACHING AND PREACHING. Ed. Patrick D Miller, Jr. and Paul J. Achtemeier. Vol. Exodus. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1991.

Hoezee, Scott. Old Testament Lectionary Text is: Exodus 3:1-15. 31 8 2014. <http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/thisWeek/index.php&gt;.

Portier-Young, Anathea. “Commentary on Exodus 3:1-15.” 31 8 2014. workingpreacher.org. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2136&gt;.

Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary. Wordsearch, n.d.






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