Standing on holy ground
According to William Shakespeare, names aren’t that important. As Juliet says to Romeo,
What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet.
But they end up dead, all because their surnames are Montague and Capulet.
Names often do have meanings. Captain Cook found some dangerous shoals as he was exploring the east coast over two hundred years ago, so he named a nearby landmark ‘Mt Warning’. As a warning to other seafarers. The first people, the Bundjalung people, had previously named it ‘Wollumbin’. In their dreaming stories, Wollumbin was said to be Warrior Chief of the mountain. The spirits of the mountains were warriors. The wounds they received in battles can be seen as landslides on the side of the mountain and thunder and lightning were the effects of their battles.
The story you tell, the name you speak, depends on the place on which you stand.
Moses stood before a burning bush. But he came from somewhere. He was an Israelite baby, saved from death and raised in Pharaoh’s palace. He’d killed an Egyptian for mistreating an Israelite—yet the Israelites didn’t trust him. Moses was lying low in the middle of nowhere herding sheep.
How might Moses be named? What name would suit him? Again, it depends where you stand. An Egyptian might name him ‘murderer’. An Israelite could call him ‘distrusted’, or ‘one of “them”’. Either way, he was ‘unwanted’.
Maybe that’s why Moses said to God at the bush, ‘Who am I?’, for he had no idea who he really was. Yet God had given him new names: ‘leader’, ‘saviour’, ‘prophet’, ‘deliverer’. We can understand why Moses said,
Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?
Moses sees things that we don’t see. We see that he was brought up in a palace, that he could have a different iPad for each day of the week if he wanted it. But Moses sees very little in himself. He doesn’t belong, he has a speech impediment, no one will listen to him. But God sees ‘something more’ in Moses. Something more than the privileged upbringing, the awkwardness inside. God sees a heart for the poor. God can use that heart. God shares that heart.
God sees more in you and me as well. What is that ‘something more’ that God sees in you and wants to grow more of? You may find yourself standing on holy ground one day, and find out. You’ll find out that you are a work in progress, that you’re still becoming fully human. Continue reading