Moses, Jesus, and... BTW, did you notice this small thing recently?
Unless you live under a rock, you know that this weekend billions of people around the world will celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter, and millions more will celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover – collective expressions of faith blended together with ritual, storytelling, and joy.
The story of the liberation of a people and the story of the death and resurrection of a savior. This is pretty epic stuff, right?
And yet among the sweeping arcs of these grand narratives – stories of freedom and stories of faith – it is the seemingly small moments that I like to pay attention to, because sometimes I think it is the small things that matter the most.
Take for example Moses and the burning bush as told in the Biblical Book of Exodus. Our imaginations (and movies) lead us to think of the burning bush as an epic scene, an enormous flame that would be hard to miss. But in reality, what we learn from the text of the Torah/Bible (Exodus Chapter 3) story is that it was actually a small shrub, ensconced in flame but, at the same time, not consumed by the fire. Although Moses was already tending to Jethro’s flock (surly no simple task), he noticed the burning bush. It was a small action, yet an enormous one as well. Had Moses not been walking with his eyes truly open, he wouldn’t have stopped to notice the strange fire, and he wouldn’t have had his first encounter with God, an encounter that helped catalyze the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt.
Similarly, in the story of Easter we often think of Jesus’ condemnation, his being nailed to the Cross, and his ultimate death and resurrection. But the among those epic moments are the smaller, stiller ones that make-up Jesus’s march to Calvary and his crucifixion. Take, for example, the moment Jesus turns and speaks to the women of Jerusalem who are following him with impassioned cries (Luke 23:27-31). Like the moment when Moses noticed the burning bush, this is a moment of Jesus taking notice. Rather than a burning bush, however, Jesus notices the inflamed hearts of the women around him. Even with the burden of carrying his cross, he opens his ears to the sobbing and wailing around him, and turns to comfort the women, noticing them and encountering them.
These two leaders – two prophetic voices whose stories are known for their epic transformations – could not have completed their journeys without these small moments of taking notice. Moments of seeing the flames in front of them and of hearing the voices around them.
They took notice of the small things.
In this day and age, so many of us look for the grand narratives, the bold leaders, and the epic stories. We search for the spectacle of success and we act as voyeurs of those suffering from fantastical failures. We notice the big plot twists and the big ideas, but far too often we overlook the parts of the story that are seemingly minor and irrelevant.
So perhaps this weekend, as we sit and share the grand stories of the Christian and Jewish faiths, stories of persecution and of liberation, of sacrifice and of redemption, we will also think a bit more of the small things in those stories and in our own lives.
Are we paying enough attention to notice the small flames of possibility calling out to us?
Are we opening our ears enough to truly hear the voices of those who are crying out around us?
And truly… will we notice the small things happening all around us?
Because in the end, they might be the things that bring to life the biggest stories of our lives.