Most people are familiar with the story of Moses and the burning bush. Moses saw a strange sight while he was out keeping watch over his father-in-law’s sheep — a bush burning, yet not consumed. Out of the bush came a voice — the voice of God — that would call Moses to go back to Egypt and set his people free from slavery. Moses heard these words: “Take off your sandals, Moses, you’re standing on Holy Ground.”
We may have burning questions (pardon the pun) about the bush and God speaking is such an unusual and dramatic way, but there are other questions: “What was it that made that particular ground ‘Holy?’” and “Where do you find Holy Ground these days?”
The word holy really just means “different,” “other than,” or “set apart for a special purpose.” But in this context it seems to mean something more. What made the ground on which Moses stood “different?” It seems that what made the ground holy, different, or set apart is that Moses encountered God in that place.
So, does that kind of ground exist today? I believe it does. To me, the most straightforward was to understand “Holy Ground” is that it is anywhere we find God — or experience God’s call in our lives. It doesn’t have to be a burning bush or a loud voice booming down from the heavens. That is unlikely. So where do you find Holy Ground these days? Holy Ground is often found in the very ordinary and mundane course of our lives. When Moses encounters God it’s an ordinary day and he’s doing his ordinary job. It’s in his daily routine that Moses has this extraordinary experience. He’s going about his ordinary business as a shepherd when he finds himself standing on Holy Ground.
This story, then, is not so much about the burning bush as it is about Moses opening himself to God’s call. When we are open to the possibility of experiencing God’s presence, the still small voice of calling, or the nudge that pushes us to act, then we can find ourselves — sometimes in surprising ways — standing on Holy Ground.
Holy Ground is most often found in the ordinary moments and places of our lives — whenever and wherever God has our attention long enough for us to be focused on the most important things in life.
I think we find ourselves on Holy Ground during all the major moments in our life: the birth of a child, when a child leaves home, during all the natural transitions and turning points in our life — those times when we’re really aware and thinking deeply about what’s most important.
When we listen deeply for God’s call, we can find what Theologian Frederick Buechner calls our “vocation,” which he defines as “the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” That place is Holy Ground.
Sometimes Holy Ground can be a place where we wrestle with God — where we try to understand better what we are to do. It is the place where we question the authenticity of our calling. Sometimes Holy Ground is where we get a new outlook or discover a new viewpoint that helps us see more clearly what we are being called to do.
Holy Ground is any place where we experience God: where we learn that we’re not alone and where we discover that God provides us with what we need to be who we’re being called to be and what we’re being called to do. It is the place where God challenges us. And Holy Ground is a place of new beginnings.
When in your own life have you found yourself on Holy Ground? Where were you and what prompted this realization? What was God calling you to do — and how did you answer that call?
I look forward to exploring these ideas further with you this Sunday in the Sanctuary, in a worship experience that I pray will become for you Holy Ground.
Grace and Peace,