What Makes Ground Holy?
By: Rev. Phil Dieke, Associate Pastor of Disciple and Digital Ministry

“Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5
Holy Ground.

In the context of this passage, we are told that Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law. As he is caring for these sheep he makes his way up Mount Horeb. There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly unique about this day, about this time, or even about this particular place. There are Rabbinical traditions that even say Moses probably made this trek regularly, perhaps a weekly rotation of locations to which he moved the flock.
And yet, something different happened during this specific trip.
“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush.”
A bush.
Was there anything unique about this bush… other than it was inflamed, but not consumed by the flames (that is rather unique based on what I have experienced with bushes). Presumably, it was a bush he had passed thousands of times, yet this is where the story gets fun. And when I say story, I mean the story beyond the story. Don’t get me wrong, the story in Exodus is fun too, but what the Rabbis throughout history have done with this story gets really fun.
There are some who say Moses had passed that bush thousands of times, and it had indeed always been inflamed, Moses simply failed to notice. That seems pretty far-fetched, right? I’m pretty sure I would notice a bush that was on fire. It would surely catch my attention.
Or would it?
Reading this passage through the lens of awareness is a deeply meaningful, and deeply spiritual, reading. Imagine if Moses had walked over this place, this holy ground, thousands of times and never noticed it. Week after week, he walked passed an inflamed bush but was too busy, too distracted, too worried,  too _______ to even notice. 
The story of Moses and the burning bush invites us to see things differently. To open our eyes, our mind’s eye, to a new experience. In his book, The Naked Now, Richard Rohr says, “We see what we are ready to see, expect to see, and even desire to see.” Maybe we have failed to see the burning bush because we haven’t been ready. We haven’t expected it. We haven’t desired it.

Read the full text for this week’s Exodus passage here. As you read it, and potentially re-read it, reflect on the following questions:
  1. How do you determine what is holy? What about what is not holy?
  2. Does reading this passage through the lens of awareness cause you to pause and reflect on the things you pass each and every day?
  3. What inflamed bushes have you been walking by?
  4. What has caused you to miss it (busyness, distraction, etc.)?
  5. How might removing your “sandals” help you connect to the holy?

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