The ordinary is extraordinary when we recognise God’s presence.
Exodus 3: 1-6
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
photo credit: ‘Jakes’
“Dr Simon, do you want to go high tide?”
“I think I’m just going to stick with low tide,”
“You know, when you are in the villages, you will be high tide all the time.”
“Yeah… perhaps I’d better go high tide then.”
“High tide! High tide!”
It was dark, the insects were noisy, and I was sitting, barefoot, on the floor drinking Cava with a group of students – after an hour of being crossed, my legs were sore.
When I first read about Cava, the drink that Pacific islanders share in social gatherings and ceremonies, I was a little apprehensive. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t even have that much caffeine, drinking psychoactive substances is just not really a big part of my life.
In Fiji there are different rules about who drinks what. Methodists won’t drink alcohol (mainly) but will drink Cava; Presbyterians seem quite relaxed about what they drink; Pentecostals and Seventh Day Adventists don’t touch alcohol or Cava. Rules – we’ve all got them.
“You will sleep well tonight,” the students laughed as I downed my first ‘high tide’ (full bowl) of Cava. Some people use the drink as herbal medicine, to relax the muscles and lower anxiety. Others don’t think they’ve had enough unless they’ve been sick in a bush. Eventually I thanked my friends before insisting “no tide, no tide,” and sloping off.
It struck me, as I watched the ceremony with which it was distributed, that had Jesus been born in Fiji then our communion ceremonies might have included Cava, rather than wine. The ordinary is extraordinary when we recognise God’s presence.
“Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God, But only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” (Aurora Leigh: Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
That we might perceive the whole world as holy; that we might see the extraordinary in the ordinary; that we might recognise heaven on earth; that we might go barefoot on that sacred soil; and feel the spirit’s flame flicker beneath our shoeless feet.
Let us drink fully of that proffered cup this day, and every day. Amen.
Dr Simon Cross is a 3rd year student at Westminster College training for the Ministry of Word and Sacraments. He is a member of Grimsby URC in North East Lincolnshire.