Then [God] said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5)
Church camp is an exceptional place for many reasons, but one that continues to stick out to me is what happens at worship. In the midst of the giggles, the not loud enough pronouncements of Scripture, the awkward skits, the songs and hymns sung half-heartedly, and the myriad of different prayer practices, God some how breaks in. When given the chance to lead the gathered community into the presence of the Divine, those youth shine like the sunrise. I often have to stop, let go of what is keeping me tethered to the outside world, and take off my sandals, for that place is holy ground.
One of the problems of church camp is you have to leave. We can preach and teach and tell and implore those kids to take home their experience of God, that feeling the presence of Christ isn’t held only at that one place, and the Spirit is with them wherever they go, but it’s hard, even for me as an adult. The set-apartness of camp is simply more conducive to being attentive to God than the monotony of everyday life.
But Moses’ experience of God, while remarkable, was not out of the ordinary life for him. He was doing his everyday job, tending the cattle. He led his flock to the mountain, but it wasn’t for any other reason than to find grass to graze upon. He was only trying to keep the flock going and healthy when he noticed that mesmerizing shrub alight but not burnt. He could have gone on, but he stepped out of the everyday and into the holy.
Moses made the conscious decision to leave behind all that was going on to go into the presence of God. He didn’t have to, he could have gone on, taken steps backward, returned to his animals, traveled back to Jethro in Midian. He had responsibilities,
duties, a job to do. He could have exclaimed he was busy, this was inconvenient, there were better things to do with his time, but instead, he took his steps forward.
If holy moments happen even in the midst of the stink of cattle, they can happen in offices, classrooms, factories, restaurants, hospitals. They can even happen in a sanctuary, we just have to be willing to dive in and take our sandals off.