by Phil Morice Brubaker
Acts 7:34 – Then the Lord said to [Moses], ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt.’
When it comes to stories about the calls of prophets, Luke’s retelling of Moses’s call is a great one. I’m not sure why it isn’t used more as a pattern for worship calls to action. Isaiah’s “Here I am, send me,” lends itself well to short, pithy uses in worship, and the burning coal to the lips makes a pretty good story. So does Ezekiel’s eating of a scroll.
But, Moses…. Wow. Barefoot in front of a burning bush – that’s a great visual.
Maybe we don’t find many vocational liturgies centered around Moses because he comes up with a bunch of excuses.
Roots of Justice trainer Conrad Moore preaches about the messages that Moses must have internalized as a Hebrew in Egypt. He’s not good enough. He’s not eloquent. He’s ignorant. But he finally goes back to Egypt as the liberator of his people. Conrad draws parallels between the journey of Moses out of internalized inferiority and the internalized racism that People of Color struggle with.
White people have our own excuses for not heeding the call to participate in the liberation movement. “If they didn’t break the law they wouldn’t have anything to fear.” “I have to look out for my own family.” “Looting just isn’t right.” “There are legal ways to enter the country and we’re a nation of laws.” “I don’t have time right now.”
Lent is the time to give up our excuses and the lies we believe.
Liberating God, open our ears to the groaning of your people – our people – in Egypt. Free us from the excuses that bind us. Free us from our perceived inferiority or superiority. Send us to Egypt, Ferguson, Cleveland, New York, L.A., and every other place where people are treated unjustly. Amen.
Phil Morice Brubaker is coordinator and trainer with Roots of Justice.