Moses with the Burning Bush -- Marc Chagall
As a worship leader and preacher in congregational ministry for nearly four decades I regretted that the lectionary (schedule of biblical readings) buried some of the powerful narrative arcs of the Hebrew scriptures in the Summer months. Of course they were only "buried" because United Church folk tend not to attend worship during those months. It's unfortunate because whatever our strengths may be, biblical literacy isn't one of them.
The past couple of weeks have taken us to the story of Moses' birth and his numinous, mystical wilderness "burning bush" call to lead his people from bondage to freedom. It's little wonder that Moses is at the core of Judaism, regarded with reverence. Jesus, the Jew, and the apostle Paul, the Jew, both give honour to Moses and Jesus' own mountain-top experience which Christians call the Transfiguration includes a numinous, mystical experience which includes Moses.
The continuity in our deliverance story is essential. Hey, our United Church of Canada crest includes the burning bush as a reminder of our Presbyterian heritage.
I had been aware until this weekend that there is an annual Islamic festival which celebrates Moses. For Sunni Muslims Ashura marks the day that Moses and Miriam and the Israelites were saved from Pharaoh by God creating a path through the Sea of Reeds.
I appreciate the coincidence of the lectionary and Ashura. We often speak of the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We can also be aware that these same three are Mosaic faiths, with all the richness of symbolism which his story gives us.
Crossing the Red Sea -- Yoram Raanan