In the story of the Exodus, Moses encounters a bush in the desert that is on fire but is not being consumed by that fire. In his curiosity, he approaches, and hears a voice from the flames: “Moses. Take off your sandals, for where you are standing is holy ground. I am the God of your ancestors, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
So Moses hides his face, presumably out of shame, or fear, or both. The voice goes on to tell Moses that the time has come to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and that Moses is the man to do the job. And in his string of excuses why that can’t possibly be right, Moses finally gets to the key question: “Okay, suppose I do this. Suppose I lead the people out of Egypt. Why would they follow me? Who do I tell them sent me? What if they ask me your name?”
And the voice from the bush answers, “Tell them ‘I Am’ sent you.”
Now, what’s lurking just beneath the surface of this exchange is a sociological norm that was true of ancient peoples but not in our world today, so we miss it. In those days, when you encountered a stranger, you never wanted to be the first one to state your name. It was a sign of subservience. By giving another your name was to give them power over you.
And so for God to give Moses the name, “I Am,” says something more about who this God is than just a name. It implies a level of vulnerability we don’t expect from a deity. It says that God is not afraid to be known.
Vulnerability is something we humans–and especially prideful, individualistic 21st Century Americans–mostly try to avoid. We want to be seen as strong, as independent, as self-sufficient.
But what if vulnerability is actually at the heart of what it means to be fully human? What if, without vulnerability, we are missing out on something that is at the core of our true essence?
This week at New Wineskins, we’ll talk about vulnerability and its place in our relationships with God and one another.
Join us Sunday evening, Feb. 11, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company as we unpack the power of vulnerability.
Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm
Conversation Begins: 7:00pm