Week of Proper 10: Thursday, Year 1   17 comments

Above:  Moses and the Burning Bush, from St. Isaac’s Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia

Divine Power Revealed in Caring

JULY 20, 2023


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Exodus 3:13-20 (An American Translation):


said Moses to God,

in case I go the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they say, “What is his name?” what am I to say to them?

God said to Moses,

I am who I am.

Then he said,

Thus you shall say to the Israelites:  ‘”I am” has sent me to you.’

God said further to Moses,

Thus you shall say to the Israelites:

“Yahweh [the LORD], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has sent me to you.” This has always been my name, and this shall remain my name throughout all the ages.  Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and say to them, “The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have given careful heed to you and your treatment in Egypt, and I have resolved to bring you up out of your tribulation in Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivvites, and Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘  They will heed your appeal, and then you and the elders of Israel shall come to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has paid us a visit; so now, let us make three days’ journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.’  I know, however, that the king of Egypt will not let you go without the use of force; so I will stretch out my hand and smite Egypt with all the marvels that I shall perform in it; after that he will let you go.”

Psalm 105:1-15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name;

make known his deeds among the peoples.

2 Sing to him, sing praises to him,

and speak of all his marvelous works.

3 Glory in his holy Name;

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

4 Search for the LORD and his strength;

continually seek his face.

5 Remember the marvels he has done,

his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,

6 O offspring of Abraham his servant,

O children of Jacob his chosen.

7 He is the LORD our God;

his judgments prevail in all the world.

8 He has always been mindful of his covenant,

the promise he made for a thousand generations:

9 The covenant he made with Abraham,

the oath that he swore to Isaac,

10 Which he established as a statute for Jacob,

an everlasting covenant for Israel,

11 Saying, “To you will I give the land of Canaan

to be your allotted inheritance.”

12 When they were few in number,

of little account, and sojourners in the land,

13 Wandering from nation to nation

and from one kingdom to another,

14 He let no one oppress them

and rebuked kings for their sake,

15 Saying, “Do not touch my anointed

and do my prophets no harm.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Come to me, all of you toil and learn from me, and I will let you rest.  Let my yoke be put upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble-minded, and your hearts can find rest, for the yoke I offer you is a kindly one, and the load I ask you to bear is light.


The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Moses said to God, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”  And God said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh.”  He continued, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, “Ehyeh sent me to you.'”

–Exodus 3:13-14, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

The account of what happened when Moses saw the burning bush at Midian continues in Exodus 3:13-20.  Moses asks an understandable and predictable question:  What is your name?  God answers “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh” in Hebrew.  This is a fascinating reply that TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures transliterates.  A note from The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford University Press, 2004, page 111 explains:

Meaning of Heb. uncertain; variously translated: “I Am That I Am’; “I Am Who I Am”; “I Will Be What I Will Be”; etc.

In verse 15 God uses the name “YHWH,” or “Yahweh.”  Professor Richard Elliott Friedman writes in his Commentary on the Torah that this name is a verb whose imperfect tense is not limited to “a past, present, or future time.”  The closest translation, Friedman writes, is “He Causes To Be.”

There is a great mystery about all this, and that is as matters should be.  God refuses to fit into human categories, even temporal ones.  Translation:  God exists beyond human control and understanding.  May we stand in awe of the mysterious grandeur of God.

This God, self-identified as YHWH and Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh manifests concern for the oppressed Hebrews of Egypt and commands Moses to lead them out of slavery.  God will liberate the Hebrews, but there must be a human leader of the Exodus.  Most importantly, though, God cares and acts mightily in accordance with this attitude.

The benighted man thinks,

“God does not care.”

–Psalm 14:1 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures)

The standard English translation of Psalm 14:1 is that a foolish person thinks, “There is no God.”  (A nearly identical verse occurs in Psalm 10:4.)  But, as The Jewish Study Bible notes point out, some form of theism was a universal assumption at the time of the writing the psalms.  As I have written elsewhere, for God to exist is for God to care.  That is a God whose face and strength I can seek without reservation.

Jesus, in Matthew 11, summons people to come to him and take on a spiritual discipline.  We need rules to establish order and direct our energies.  We ought also to choose only the proper rules, of course.  There are negative rules, those which exclude people inappropriately while stroking the egos of insiders.  The best disciplines, however, are those which transform us into what we ought to be and are based on love–of God, others, and ourselves.

The existence of Jesus is itself an indicator of God’s care for people.  So why not take up Jesus on his invitation?  He has the bona fides.



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