Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Where's a burning bush when you really need one?

We all know the story - Moses encounters God at the burning bush, then goes on to free the Hebrews from Egypt, with a little help from God. What we don't talk about much is that Moses was a runaway, a murderer. He didn't want the job. Whatever he was doing at the time (keeping sheep) had to be better than working for God.

Yet God can be convincing and Moses finds himself heading off to Egypt for an epic showdown with the Pharoah. The movies have us thinking that this was a quick and relatively painless happening, at least for the Hebrews, but the battle between God and the Pharoah lasted for years, and both sides suffered. The Hebrews begged Moses to stop; he was only making things worse.

The truth is that liberation is messy. It hurts. Some people are going to end up with less than what they started with, and they will resent it. Others don't want to deal with the fight to make things fair. Short term losses have them crying "enough already". Everybody blames the poor guy with the staff.

The news these days is full of stories of rebellion and unrest. Not all of it is in "those" countries where we expect people to throw off their chains and become just like us. Even the riots in Britain can be blamed on "the British tendency to violence" because that's easier than saying that the tinder for the riots was created by policies that shelter the rich while criminalizing the poor. I expect when the riots start here in North America there will be a lot of the same kind of posturing and blaming of the poor.

Our society is ripe for liberation, the tinder dry and waiting for the spark. The have's are protecting their wealth while the poor get poorer and the government appears to work for the rich. The only question really is what kind of spark is going to set off the fire?

I'm rather hoping that it is a spark from a burning bush. I think that the churches and the faithful have a call to speak the truth and call for liberation. None of us want the job. Too many of us are close enough to the wealthy (or think we are) to be comfortable with the idea of becoming prophets of God's egalitarian Dominion. Yet isn't that likely exactly what Jesus had in mind when he talked about us picking up our crosses? After all, Jesus talked more about money and poverty than about anything else. The whole Dominion of God is based on a reversal of rich and poor, ruler and servant.

The bush is burning, friends, whether we want to see it or not.

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