I attempted to read through the entire Old Testament and a textbook over the course of the last two weeks to prepare for a class I am taking this spring. One theme that jumps out at me again and again in my reading is the way that God enters the story of his people, how he weaves himself into the fabric of their lives so that he is the thread that undergirds and sustains Israel through all their brokenness and all their failures.
He walks with Adam in the garden. He visits old Abraham at his tent. He calls to Moses from the burning bush and declares his power to the Egyptians through miracles. He leads Israel through desert lands, a pillar of cloud before them. He calls out to little Samuel in the night. He appears to a desolate and weary Elijah not through flame or disaster, but gently, through a whispering breeze. He speaks to them where they are at, through the symbols and images they will understand. Need I say more?
Moses responded to God by taking off his sandals. This earthly topography God deigns to enter becomes holy ground, and all we can do if we see him rightly is to make like Elijah and pull our cloaks over our faces.
And then the Incarnation happens. The logos that sustains all weaves even deeper, becomes part of the topography and the landscape by entering into genealogy, and by doing so, making that genealogy holy. This is holy ground we are walking on.
I cannot help but be amazed when I recall the disciples taking off their sandals before Jesus in John's gospel when, at an evening meal, Jesus bends down to wash their feet. I may just be overzealous for repeated motifs and symbols due to my literary education. But I see a connection here. Moses, taking off his worn sandals where he stands alone with God in the wilderness. The disciples, sitting barefoot as their Lord stoops to wash their dirty feet. Shoes taken off before glory: glory in the flaming bush and glory in the act of the faithful servant who calls us to do for others what he does for us, to enter into their stories, weaving into their tales by stooping low and humble to pick up their dirty feet and wash them clean.