Daily Devotion Thursday 5th October 2023

Thursday, 5 October 2023 
Builders on rock and sand
Exodus 3:1-2

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.

Matthew 4:24 27

‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise person who built their house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a fool who built their house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’


Photo credit David Coleman

In amongst all the many loving warnings of Scripture, there are also equally loving ultimatums, which, though I’ve grown up to see them as harsh, can be taken to heart. Unless I’m mindful of limits, be it of the danger to Church workers of burnout, or of the changes to sea-level and continued global warming, there’s disaster – which I will have chosen – just around the corner. 

Writing this very short reflection, Scriptural examples crowd in on me: not least, the completely contemporary story of the builders on sand and on rock, neither of whom could ‘fix the climate’.  That’s more realistic than even some aid agencies have dared to be in recent years.

The one who wisely took notice, both of the ‘signs of the climate’ and their own limits,  engaging in mitigation and adaptation, was the one who, happy ending or not,  at least survived. 

The warnings are God’s protection, and this story is presented as the seal on the collection of teachings in Matthew we know as the Sermon on The Mount.  Several times, I’ve presented the whole ‘Sermon’ in the Sunday slot with congregations, and it’s a roller-coaster experience which adds power to this parable.  After all you’ve been through, says Jesus, are you going to take any notice.

I like to put the “blazing bush’ story together with that of the builders, because both show salvation by the skin of our teeth.

The bush was not fireproof nor the rock-house waterproof.  The bush was blazing – suffering the extremity where help was urgently needed. And of the builders, both suffered extreme flooding. But like investors in, and users of, sustainable energy farming, building, and transport, the rock-builder saw the cost of denial.

Alertness, awareness, and the willingness to act urgently – and sacrificially – are the path to the happiest of endings we’re likely to get.  Thanks be to God.


God of Cross and Empty Tomb
Sometimes we might pray 
‘Please fix the world!’
And turn despairing, finding 
nothing healed, only changed for worse!

But you give us richer hope than that:
with eyes wide open, reading signs:
responding as we’re called and able,
to the floods, the fire, the heat, and rising water.

Save us from the tyranny of what can’t be.
Walk with us through the waters of what will be.
And all the while speak playfully of what might yet be,
Christ who came again, but different:
our Repurposed friend!

Today’s writer

The Rev’d David Coleman is a URC Minister and Chaplain to EcoCongregations Scotland


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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