Here in the UK, it’s the second day of exceptional warmth in a row – the snowdrops are wilting, and you can almost see the blackthorn blossom opening before your eyes. It feels more like late April, but it is the week before Lent begins.
I am very pleased that various groups, churches, and groups of churches are going to use my book as guide through Lent, and, if you would like to follow, here is a suggested programme.
Getting Started: Chapter 1, Moses and Abraham. This is a shortish introductory chapter – you could fit it in the week before Lent, or as an extra piece of reading as Lent begins.
The woman at the well: week beginning Sunday 3rd March 2019. Ash Wednesday is 6th March this year.
I am the bread of life: week beginning 10th March.
I am the light of the world: week beginning 17th March.
I am the good shepherd, I am the gate for the sheep: week beginning 24th March.
I am the resurrection and the life: week beginning 31st March.
I am the way, the truth and the life: week beginning 7th April.
I am the true vine: week beginning 14th April, Holy Week.
I am he: Maundy Thursday, 18th April, or another day this week.
That means that this week is a good time for me to share with you a little of the first chapter – I am: Moses and Abraham. It’s short, so I hope you’ll be able to include it in your readings.
John’s gospel looks back to Moses’ ancient story, recording for us how Jesus called himself by this name – “I am”. This name, which emerged from a burning bush so long ago, is one of the most identifiable features of John’s account. It resonated with his early readers and listeners in Greek Ephesus, and it stirs our imagination even today, millennia later. Before we go deep into John’s account, and explore why that may be, we will look back to Moses’ story and see what we understand of this earliest “I am”.
Nothing is wasted in God’s economy. God used the rubbish – and the good – in Moses’ upbringing and his life as a shepherd. He became ideally suited to his task. As well as his circumstances and experience, God used his character; in this case, a sense of justice and an indignation at bullies. What must have felt like failure and a downwards path was the place where Moses encountered God.
We do not know if he was seeking God when God appeared. We do know that he was in the middle of his everyday, working life, and that God did something strange to arrest his attention, awaken his curiosity, draw him nearer. Attention and curiosity can guide you, can awaken you to God in the burning bushes we pass every day.
Moses certainly didn’t seem to looking for a job, let alone a great mission. It is easy to read his rather thin excuses and wonder why he spent so long arguing. His unwillingness to respond seems to come from uncertainty.
Moses is uncertain about himself, and he is uncertain about God.
And from the Reflection and Response section
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God.
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
As you start your day, pray for open eyes to see where God may be at work, or may be seeking to catch your attention today. Set off with open eyes, a camera and a notepad. Record anything that draws your attention. At the end of the day, mull over what you have recorded in prayer. What did you see?
If you’d like a copy, you can ask your local bookshop, or order online.
Here are a few suggestions:
Thank you for joining me in your reading. There is more to come…..