When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see…

In Exodus, we read of Moses and the burning bush. It is one of our seminal stories and we are very familiar with it. Moses sees a bush burning without being consumed by the fire and he wonders how that could be. So he stops and goes and has a look and “When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see” he spoke to him and nothing was ever the same again. The story of the Jews and their relationship with the land to which Moses led them has resonated throughout the histories of Jews, Christians and Muslims and through the Middle East, America and Europe ever since.

And I have a question. What if the bush had been burning for some considerable time? What if several shepherds had passed by but it was only Moses who stopped to have a look? What if God is constantly calling to multiple people but only some of them ever stop to listen? What if you or I, our attention momentarily caught by some anomaly, stopped and went close – turned aside to see – and said, “Lord, was that you?” What might we hear?

As I write, there are only four more days until I can finally let my granddaughter move the symbol on her picture calendar from summer to autumn. The hedgerows and the trees through which we drive, or walk will shortly start to change colour and briefly before they drop, we may have a moment when, catching early morning or late evening sunlight through golden leaves, we too might wonder if it is aflame. Perhaps it is a moment in which we are called to pause, to send up that quick prayer: Lord, are you calling me? Or perhaps more truthfully: Lord, I hear your call. To what are you calling me?

In his book “Called or Collared?” Francis Dewar makes the case that we are all called, and that sometimes people, sensing the call, assume it is to ordained ministry because that is what they associate with vocation. But actually he says, we are all called to something and finding out what that something is can be the work of a lifetime.

As I look around the churches in which I serve and see the dedication and the vocation of so many, I am in no doubt that many are responding to the call. Nevertheless, perhaps the autumn, with its flame-filled trees and bushes, is a challenge to us all to turn aside for a moment and say “What would you have me do Lord?”

God bless,


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