MISSING THE BURNING BUSH (John 15:26-27; 16:12-15): 31 May 2009 (Pentecost Sunday)
Dear Lord Jesus,
On Pentecost Sunday you keep your promise to send your Spirit to your disciples. If we take the account in the Acts of the Apostles literally, the scene unfolds quite dramatically–the sound of a mighty wind, a rain of fire, and a symphony of diverse languages. Because of Pentecost, we are told, your presence fills the world though often we fail to notice.
The 19-century poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning puts it this way:
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees
takes off his shoes–
The rest sit round it
and pluck blackberries.
Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopalian preacher, reflects on the original burning bush, and observes that the bush did not exactly miraculously explode into flames right before Moses’ very eyes. Rather, Moses, who was busy with his father-in-law’s flock, noticed it only from the corner of his eyes and had to “turn aside”–that is, stop what he was doing, perhaps put the flock safely to the side, and make a detour to look at the sight. Moses could have made simply muttered, “Hmm, that’s interesting!” and quickly move on–or maybe he could have made a mental note about the strange bush, promising to return after bringing the sheep safely to their fold.
But had he done so, Taylor notes, had Moses postponed going over to the bush, even if he had returned, the moment would have been gone. And Moses would have altogether missed out on his life-transforming face-to-face encounter with God.
Lord, how many burning bushes have I missed? How often have I been too busy, too much in a rush–or simply too distracted “plucking blackberries,” all the while whining about how hard it is to sense your presence in my life? This Pentecost, grant me the grace to catch sight of the burning bushes you scatter all around me, and the patience to slow down and turn aside to experience your presence in this Spirit-filled world. Amen.
How about sharing a Quick Prayer here?
Note: Here is a song I wrote years ago about the Holy Spirit in our lives. Co-written with Ed Daas and performed by Noel Cabangon, the song is called “Let Your Spirit.” The music video was beautifully shot in Sagada by award-winning film director Lawrence Cordero.