By

Moses began an ordinary day – tending his father-in- law’s flock. He
maneuvered the animals beyond the wilderness – to Mount Horeb, which
became known as the Mountain of God. It was on that mountain where
something strange caught Moses’ eye.
There, growing in the soil, was a bush on fire but not consumed by the
flames. It was most unusual, and Moses came to discover it was undeniably
extraordinary.
God called to Moses from the burning bush – and Moses’ life was changed
forever.
God told Moses to take off his sandals, for the place on which he was
standing was holy ground.
In ancient times, everyday sandals could cost as much as a sack of precious
grain. As in our time, sandals protected the owner’s feet from some of the
harsh elements in nature. They were barriers between the person and the
ground.
God told Moses to remove the barrier from his feet – so that he might feel the
ground and allow the dirt to mingle between his toes, the same dirt in which
God’s presence was being revealed. By doing so, Moses joined himself to
the holy.
In that encounter, Moses recognized both his own inabilities and God’s
possibilities. By joining with the holy and trusting in the presence of the God
of his ancestors, Moses would actually accomplish what he thought
unachievable – freedom from slavery for his Hebrew sisters and brothers.
Sometimes God uses the unusual to capture our gaze and attention, so that we
may be invited into the holy for the purpose of accomplishing impossibilities.
Is God trying to get your attention and welcome you into the holy?

Maybe God is inviting you to accomplish a blessing for God’s people?
I believe God is just as active now as in the time of Moses. And, some
people are working diligently with the holy, accomplishing great things and
sharing many blessings with God’s people.
It’s just that, in our society, we can get so distracted by our schedules and
activities that we may miss the ‘God moments’ happening either within our
activities or apart from our routines.

It’s encouraging to me that, even within in a divided and polarized national
landscape, compassion for human need is not dead.
Of course, God did not cause Hurricane Harvey. But I do believe God is
using it to awaken our nation’s collective conscience regarding our common
humanity.
I believe holy God is present in the aftermath of this natural disaster, and
calling people like you and me, and millions upon millions of others, to
response to human need, recognizing that all of us are brothers and sisters.
While there are a few stories out of Texas sprinkled with humanity’s sinful
nature, I haven’t heard any talk of people reaching out to help only
Republicans or Christians or Caucasians or American Citizens. Rather, I’ve
watched, via the media, people risking their lives for the sake of helping
another human being.
I believe the holy is active in Texas and all around us. God wants all people
to pay attention and accept the invitation to join in, not only in Texas, but in
many places.

There was once a man named Hardy. He was my Grandma’s second cousin,
making him my fourth cousin. Hardy lived in a tiny, tin shack with a wood-
burning stove on a miniscule piece of overgrown land owned by my
Grandparents.
He wasn’t tall or handsome. He chewed tobacco and had a perpetual dripple.
He possessed few clothes. He didn’t have a job or a car or a washing
machine or many friends. Some would call Hardy a lazy, good-for- nothing
bum, even though he often walked 8 miles to town and beyond just to spend
time with people, no matter the weather.
But this man writing this sermon remembers feeling love exuding from
Hardy heart. We spent hours together laughing, eating, and telling stories
while looking into one another’s eyes – where I found joy dancing behind the
face-stubble and the almost toothless grin.
As a small child, I watched as people avoided Hardy. Oh, he did spew
crumbs while eating chocolate cake. And, he didn’t smell like roses. But he
was a child of God, who loved children and cherished each one as God’s
special gift. I was one of those children.
The memory of Hardy could be lost forever. He contributed little to this
world, or so it seemed. Maybe that’s why at his graveside service, the funeral
director closed the casket 15 minutes before the funeral was to begin because,
as I recall him saying, “No one else is going to come to this guy’s funeral.”
But I attended his funeral with my Dad, Mom and Sister. We were there.
My grandparents were there. And, I still remember Hardy, some 53 years
after he died. He made an indelible impression, at least on me.

Today, God uses Hardy’s memory to kindle within me a reminder to keep
looking for God – because God is all around, sometimes within the obvious,
and sometimes in downright unexpected places.

How does the story of Hardy Baily connect to the story of Moses and the
burning bush?
When we take away the barriers between us, others and the holy, we will
experience God in ways unimaginable and life changing. Then, we are able
to make and receive lasting impressions of God’s grace and love, and with
God’s help, accomplish the unthinkable.

 
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