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Bo Stern Brady: Holy Moments, Exodus 3:2, 7-10

July 10, 2023

Audio Recording

We become like Jesus as we learn to recognize and respond to holy moments.

Westside Church Podcast
Westside Church Podcast
Bo Stern Brady: Holy Moments, Exodus 3:2, 7-10

Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.

00:06 I have a scripture that's been, one of the defining marks of my life over the last couple of months. It's been a scripture that's literally kind of kept me up at night just thinking about it and thinking about what it means if I pay attention to it. there are plenty of scriptures I don't pay much attention to, frankly, and this is one of them that I didn't pay much attention to for a long time until we started going through something at before. That was really hard. And I woke up one morning with this scripture in my head and my spirit and I started looking at it. It's from the Old Testament, but it is relevant for us this very day. One thing that I love about scripture is that it talks to us about, God tells us more about who God is. But what I love, love is that it also tells us about who we are.

00:52 And it tells us how we show up in a space that is occupied by holy things and profane things and enemy things and difficult things and good thing. Our world is just filled with this whole mix of things and, and the word of God helps us understand our relationship to all of these things. And so in Exodus three, Moses walks out into his field, a field he's been in every day for 40 years. He knows this field like the back of his hand. This is his field. You probably have a field too that you really know. You know what? You've been to every inch of it. You know what it does and doesn't do. And one thing most of our fields don't do is start on fire but not burn anything up. And that's what Moses discovers is a bush that is not just on fire but it's not being consumed.

01:41 And so that's a weird deal He recognizes that doesn't happen every day. And so the first recorded words of God to Moses are really friendly. Do not come any closer. God said, take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy ground. So right outta the gate with this scripture, we run into a theological issue. Maybe it's a Phil philosophical one. We talk a lot in the church about Come as you are. Come exactly as you are. God wants you just as you are. I don't know. This says God wants him to change something. This kinda says here, God said I love you and I'm showing up in your field. But the next step forward is gonna require that you change something. It's gonna require that you take off your shoes. It's a pretty simple ask, but Moses has the choice whether or not he's willing to step forward as a different guy with just his feet on the ground.

02:41 God I think wants Moses to plant into the moment to stay there, to stick there. This word, holy ground, it means an apartments or a sacredness or a consecrated thing, a holy portion. It's interesting that God lights a bush on fire to get Moses' attention. I mean that's like a showstopper. But then he says, don't come any closer. And we're always looking for kind of sparkly things. I think in the church we're always looking for things to move forward and make our home there. But God says, stop. This is a moment where I'm gonna speak to you. This is a moment that's gonna be about you, right where your standing is already holy. So experience the holy thing where you are at holy moments like this are a place of vision. They're a place where God shows up and he starts to speak something to us that is new.

03:34 And it may be a little new thing or maybe a giant new thing, but in a holy moment where we see like a little holy glow around a situation and we stop and we turn toward it, that's a moment where God can show up and show us what could be what isn't yet, but what could be. And so the Lord here says, I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. They've been in slavery for 400 years. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers and listen to this little tidbit about the heart of God. And I am concerned about their suffering. God is not indifferent to what the people of Israel are experiencing. He is concerned. So I've come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up outta that land into a good and spacious land.

04:26 A land flowing with milk and honey, the home of a bunch of bad guys. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt. So God shows up in moment, he sets a bush on fire. He turns Moses vision toward him. He asked him to make a little change. And then he shows him this giant vision. And this giant vision is impossible. Like they've been in slavery for 400 years. There's not a grandma or a grandpa or a great, great great grandma or great that is alive in Israel. Who knows what freedom looks like or tastes like or sounds like they don't know a single thing about freedom. They have not been free a single day in their lives.

05:16 You know who has been free Moses, he's raised in Pharaoh's house, he's got context that the rest of them don't have. And God shows up and says, what I've done for you, I'm gonna do for the whole nation and I'm gonna use you to do it. It's impossible. Moses can't do this. And so holy moments like this are also a place of wrestling. They're a place of wrestling with our own inadequacy, with our own frustrations, with our own insecurity, with our own inability. But Moses says, who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? And God said, I will be with you and this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you. When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain. So Moses feels desperately inadequate.

06:08 And he's not wrong. He's a stutterer. He's not a speaker. He probably would've qualified to be a pastor of this church. He's not good enough to do this. He's not. He doesn't have the abilities and he is wrestling with God and he tells God, I am not good enough and it would be great right now if I could tell you that God's response to Moses is, yes you are buddy, you're great. Go get him, champ, you've got this. I think of all the things you're good at. But he doesn't say that. He says, I will be with you. And so I mean men, this is a little bit like when your woman says, do I look good in this outfit?

06:53 If you respond, doesn't matter. I look good and I'll be with you . Doesn't matter how you look at all, nobody's looking at you. Write it down if you need to there, your wife will love that. She'll love that. This is exactly what God says to Moses. He's like pretty much agrees with him, you're not good enough, but I will be with you. I will be with you. He gives him the promise of his own presence. And I love that about him. Hol holy moments are a place of wrestling, of asking God, what is happening? How do I do this? I'm gonna tell you, I am in one right now. Could we just in this room, just between the however many of us are here, say, I don't know how to be an interim pastor of a church. I don't know what I'm doing. I wake up every morning and I have this wrestling match with God.

07:57 Every morning on my couch, I say, who do you think you are? , what are you doing? What? What do you think I can do? I don't look good in this outfit. I can't do it. And I have this time with God where I tell him all of my stuff and never once, never one time has he ever said, yeah, you can do it. He has always said, I will be with you and I will give you wisdom you don't have. And I will give you people you don't know already that you'll be able to trust. And I will give you answers you don't think you possess, or I'll bring you somebody who has them. I will be with you. But holy moments are a place of wrestling. But there also a place of resourcing in this moment where Moses says, I'm not enough and I don't have enough. God gives him a staph. And that doesn't sound like much, but it turns out to be a lot of magic. Turns out to be a cool thing. I wouldn't mind having a staff write about now, if you know what I'm saying.

09:00 He gives him a staff, he gives him a spokesperson, he gives him his brother to do the talking for him. But more than anything, he gives him his own presence to go before him. He didn't say to Moses, I'd like you to figure out a way to fill Egypt with flies. I'd like you to figure that out. I'd like you to figure out a way to turn all the water into blood. I'm gonna have you just work on that process and that will really help you get them free. None of that stuff, God resources, him with his own power and his own presence. And holy moments are a place that is temporary and they're, that's hard cuz I'm gonna tell you, I would often rather stay on my couch. I would rather just be there and be like, you called me to something so big and I don't know what I'm doing.

09:47 But here you are and let's just fellowship about this. Let's talk more about this. I'll just keep my shoes off and stay here because this is a safer place for me. But in fact, the scripture says, so now go. I am sending you to Pharaoh. Holy moments of divine presence are meant to stop us, reveal truth to us, empower us and send us, send us out of what's comfortable, but get let. Let's just be real with each other. Sometimes what's comfortable is also a little boring and we're afraid to admit it. So a lot of things in my life are uncomfortable right now, but not one single thing is boring. So I'm thanking Jesus for what I've got. a holy moment in your life might look like a forced pause, a delayed flight, a missed bus, a long traffic light, a slow line at the grocery store.

10:40 It might mean a spiritual nudge or a tap on the shoulder should where you just feel like God is saying something to you and you can't quite hear it through the noise. When that happens, just stop and listen. Listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying. When you think you see a sparkle in the distance, a holy moment might look like thinking of someone you haven't seen in a, in a while in the morning and then running into them in the afternoon. It might look like seeing a story on the news about a famine or a hurricane or human trafficking and feeling more than just compassion for it. Feeling a nudge to do something, to bring your money to the game, to bring your strength to the game or your energy or your creativity or your compassion to that thing. A holy moment happens when you see something and you feel something d d down in the depths.

11:29 Do you know, I mean because I've never met a person, not even a hardened atheist who doesn't feel like they've got a down in the depths, a place where they feel more than just what they feel in their head, A place where they see something and they feel drawn toward it, where they feel like they were met for more than just surviving the holy moments or just surviving the boring moments or just surviving the holiday season in Bend. I understand it's a mess. I live in Portland, I can't judge anybody, but I'm just saying in this moment when, when we start to see something, stop and listen, what might God want to do with you in that moment?

12:08 When, our oldest daughter was 13 months old, my husband and I took a trip from Portland to Bend for the 4th of July weekend. And we were on our way to Black Butte and we got hit by a drunk driver. And my daughter was flown up in a helicopter to bend and I was taken by ambulance to Warm Springs. My husband had a concussion and was just wandering the road. Is that highway 20? Is that, is that what that is? How do I not know things? I drive this all the time. So he just wandering up and down doesn't know who he is or where he is. And so in fact, I remember somebody was asking me, they laid me on the ground and we were trying to take care of me. And somebody said, where were you going? And I said, we were going to Black Butte.

12:51 And I remember hearing my husband say to him, I don't know what she's talking about, but it wasn't Black Butte. I know we weren't going. He was just crazy. He was just knocked silly. And so, we all survived, but it was, a long recovery process. And a couple of weeks later when we went to our church in Portland for the first time, the church prayed over us for healing and restoration and a man came up to us afterwards and he said, I have to tell you, I was driving from Bend to Portland on the day of your accident and I saw the helicopter and the traffic was stopped and I saw that it was bad and I didn't know what to do. And for the first time ever in my life, God said, pull over and pray. And he said, I pulled over and I prayed hard for you.

13:38 And I need you to know that God was thinking of you in that moment. And he had me there praying. And I felt so thankful that God had covered our family at a time when my husband and I just couldn't. We didn't know we didn't have any strength spiritually or physically or any other strength. 25 years later we never talked to the guy again. Not another conversation with him. We all go our separate ways. My husband and I moved to Nebraska and then to bend and we get an email after my husband was diagnosed with a l s we get an email from this guy and he says, Hey, I'm the guy that stopped and prayed while you were pulled over. And I want you to know that I am praying now. I am praying. I heard about Steve's diagnosis and I am praying for you guys love Cliff Brady.

14:26 Ah, thank you . That is the appropriate response. That is my husband now. And if you don't believe that there is a God who orchestrates the things of our life so that even just my daughter who when she hears her mom is gonna date someone who isn't her dad, I can say he prayed for you when you were just a little tiny, just to know that when God pulled him over in his car, he was praying for who would become his wife and his stepdaughter is just, it, it burst my brain. That's like, I can't, I can't get my head around it. I just know that responding to a holy moment is worth it. And you might not get that cool story from it and not all of them do. Sometimes you stop someone and you're like, I think I should pray for you. And they're like, no thank you, no thank you. Crazy person.

15:27 It's a numbers game. . You gotta respond to the holy moments though because this is what makes our lives alive and worth it and worth living. So I was thinking about this in, in regard to holy moments like this. Why are shoes a problem? Because I don't, I love shoes. I don't think they should ever be treated as a problem. I think they're awesome, but they're a problem in this idea that shoes metaphorically can numb us to the reality of the moment that we're living in. I think God wants Moses to feel the ground beneath his feet in this moment. He wants him to plant into it and feel it and remember it. You stood on that point in the timeline of human history and I called you to something bigger.

16:19 Shoes can numb us to the feel of the ground that we're actually occupying living in, living on, called to practically. I think our shoes look like agenda, like prejudice. Our prejudice against someone can numb us to the moment that we're supposed to step into their life and love them. Our fear, our judgment, our pride, my own heartache and sorrow and loss or hopelessness or inadequacy or closed heartedness can numb me to this moment that God has called me to. I have this little rule in my life that every couple of months I make a list of anyone I don't wanna run into at WinCo. Like that would be an uncomfortable, awkward interaction if I ran into that person and then I try to fix it because if I have somebody on that list, it means somewhere my heart is closed to someone. And closed heartness is a condition that can take us over. It can become our default condition. I have tons of political opinions, tons of them. I was a big West wing watcher. So I have the answer to everything our country faces.

17:35 But you won't hear me talk about it from this stage or any stage because I do not wanna become close hearted to people who don't believe the way I believe. That is not what I'm called to do. And if I become that way, it will start to harden me to all the moments God has for me. We wanna make sure our hearts stay open. And so sometimes we have to take our shoes off. The other thing about shoes is they keep us ready to run. They can make us move too quickly away from the moment that we're supposed to be standing in. You know how we know this? Because when you're ready to get your kids and leave the house, what is the first thing you say? Get your shoes on you. We gotta go. Putting your shoes on means you're ready to leave. You're ready to go.

18:17 And God says, take off your shoes and stay for a minute. We are so easily distracted. We're assaulted by information, by so much. words, words, words coming at us all day long. Media information, news, social media, people, phone calls, texts, all the ways that we have that people can reach us. And our full-time pursuit becomes trying to avoid looking at all those things. , it is hard to not get distracted sometimes. We have to embrace the pause. We run so fast and so far it's conditioned in us by our own nature to wanna run fast and to wanna distract ourselves. But it is worth it to take a pause and listen to the voice of the one who loves us and see the face of what he's calling us to. Sometimes we have to stop and look in the face of homelessness. Look in the face of hunger.

19:15 Look in the face of what it means to be fatherless. Look in the face of what it means to be godless. Sometimes we have to stop and look at the issues rather than just sitting in our couch, enjoying the moment. So we stop and we listen and we ask God to reveal truth to us and then we ask him to send us holy moments. Move us out of an automated spirituality. I love how in the New Testament, Jesus rarely does the same miracle the same way twice. He sometimes he's spitting on the mud, sometimes he's spitting on people. Sometimes he is doing all of these different things. He does it differently. So we can't just box him into this automated way. Automation is the way of our age. We wanna do things faster and more efficiently than ever. But efficient isn't the same as effective.

20:05 And so sometimes God wants to rearrange something so that we can experience it again. I am staying in an Airbnb here and it's the, I think I'm the, I think we're the first people that have stayed in this one. And so all this stuff is new, like everything's still in the box and stuff, which is very cool. but the coffee maker was a problem for me cuz I got here and I was like, there's coffee beans and a coffee maker brand new, but no coffee grinder. And so, we've just gone out for coffee every morning, but this morning we're at desperate. It's like def com coffee. We're like, we've gotta make sure I can have coffee before I speak. And I'm trying to figure out, I get up and I'm feeling resourceful. I'm gonna, like, I honestly was thinking, could I slam the beans with a book?

20:51 Could I, what could I do to get coffee to pour from that machine? I'm sure I could do it. And then I read it closer. I have to put my glasses on and it's like grind and brew. Oh, there's a grinder inside the machine. So then it's a thing of taking the whole thing apart and figuring out how everything opens and where it goes. And even getting the lid off the coffee pot to get the water in the thing was like a whole deal. And I have made coffee in four years that I've lived in Beaverton and I have a house here in Bend and I put the same coffee maker in both houses to automate. So I don't have to think, how do I get my coffee brewing in 20 seconds in the morning? I know exactly how it's done. And today it was a whole new language.

21:35 I'm like, I dunno how coffee. But at the end, I not only had a delicious cup of coffee, I felt like a hero. I felt like probably the smartest person that God ever made. And so that was good given my sense of inadequacy right now, sometimes in order to experience something, again, even just to experience the wonder of having a beautiful cup of coffee, we have to rearrange the way we've done it because we just automate so easily. This is how we worship. This is how we show up to the Bible. These are the three chapters I read. Here's the box I mark, here's the way I pray. Here's the things I don't do here. We, it's just so easy to get that way. And you know what we kind of call that is ceal a list of ways we know we're in the box.

22:24 And God came to blow up the box so that he could have relationship with you that looks like you, so that he could fall in love with you and have you fall in love with him. And the in your love story following is not like some kind of instruction manual for working a coffee maker. It's a love story. And I've never seen two that are the same. And so Jesus comes to bring us moments that move us out of an automated spirituality that could lead us to become people who are boring and who are ineffective in our life. Efficient but ineffective. So will we notice the moments all around us because I am convinced they're happening every moment of our lives and we just need to notice them. There are moments here at West Side, kids show up in this building every week and they're like little living, walking legacies.

23:25 They're a whole world of possibility. Every child on your campus is a whole world of possibility and every child on your campus belongs to every one of you in the place of prayer. Every kid will we show up for the moments and see what God is present to do. Desperate people show up here every weekend and share this space with the holy and the whole people. Are you present to those people? The thing about desperate people is they don't usually look like it. Are we present to the holy glow around a moment where the Holy Spirit might be leading you? A woman came to me at our church last week in between services and she said, I saw a woman and we're doing a series on miracles right now, and we're believing for God to show up and do absolutely miraculous things. And it's happening and it's blowing my little inadequate mind away.

24:17 But sh it's like you asked for something and then it happens and you're like, what? I don't need to know what would happen. and so she came to me and she said, I saw a woman and I felt for the first time ever, I felt God say, go pray for her. And I just didn't wanna do it. I didn't wanna look stupid. I didn't wanna bother her. You know what? We're so polite, we're so careful. Didn't wanna bother her. So I didn't. And then she walks out in the parking lot and runs right into her and not, actually, not like with her car, just runs right into her and sees her there. And she says, can I pray with you? I I saw you inside. Could I pray? The woman just starts weeping. And she said, I have never felt seen before. And both of those women had a holy moment. Both of those women had a moment that will probably be eternal for them. It's gonna stick. One woman realized that God sees her. One woman realized that God speaks to her.

25:14 They're all around us. Bend is filled with happy looking vacationers right now. Are you present to the holy in the middle of the holiday crowd who jams up your coffee shop line, walks the river trail with their shopping bags? Are you present to the fact that even though it's annoying when the city gets so full of people, God has brought you all kinds of people that he loves. You just wanna be present. You don't have to figure out a way to get anybody saved. You don't have to figure out a way to fix any problems in the city. All you have to do is be present to the moment when God says, here I am now go. So we wanna take a minute to respond. I believe that the Holy Spirit even is here this morning. I feel like he's here with the Holy Glow.

26:14 He's here to show you himself. So we're gonna respond both with a song and also with communion. speaking of things that we have automated communion, something we pass, we take drink, eat, done did it, checked the box giving. I filled out my thing. I I mean my like tithe gets automated out of your checking account anymore. And it's not even a moment. We have to return to these moments of true discipleship where I say, I'm stepping into a life that looks like you. I'm taking off my shoes. I'm standing in this space and I'm giving you money that matters to your kingdom. Let's have a moment about this. I'm stepping into this moment and I'm coming to the table of the Lord like Jesus said to do. And I'm remembering your sacrifice. I'm stepping into the moment and I'm not gonna miss it. And I'm not gonna let it pass me by because I wanna experience everything that God has marked out for my life here on planet Earth. So I wanna pray with you, holy Spirit. It's funny to say you're welcome here when really you got here before we did. And so today we don't ask you to come, we ask that you call us to come. We wanna step into your presence, to who you are. We wanna believe in the God

27:51 Who makes all things new and calls us to be a part of the great adventure, of loving this world, of loving these people, of loving real humans who have a real destiny. God would you call us into this moment and into this space and into your presence. We pray for the bread and we pray for the cup. And we remember what you did for us. And we remember that it wasn't just for our own salvation, but for the saving of lives. So Jesus, out of our love for you, we give back everything that we have and we ask that you guide and direct and lead and wake us up to the moments all around us. In your name we pray, amen.