Sunday, November 06, 2011

burning bush (Exodus 3 and 4), mission, call, creativity and Advent

I’ve been sitting for the last few months with the call of Moses in Exodus 3 and 4. A few months ago I heard it told well as a children’s story and really hit me. First, mission and the importance of beginning with our ears on. Second, call and what it means for me to respond to God’s call by simply giving my “staff” – my gifts, talents, experiences.

Over the weekend, as a way of trying to dwell further on the text, I googled burning bush icons. (I’m just about to finish an icon (another pioneer Jesus), so I’m beginning to feel my way toward my next icon project.) I could only find about four and one, was most intriguing. It is titled the Theotokos of the Unburnt Bush. (More here)

Mary is surrounded by the flames. She literally sits in the middle of the burning bush, while Jesus sits in the middle of Mary! I like how small Moses is, off and to the side, and the little angels up top, doing their spiritual play!

Textually, much of Jesus in the Gospels, especially in Matthew, is framed as the new Moses, leading a new Exodus. Thus visually, a burning bush icon that references Jesus is very Biblically astute.

What struck me was how visually it connects for me with that superb Advent icon, the Theotokos Orans icon.

Toward the end of last year, leading into Advent, I spent much time reflecting on the Orans icon and the implications for mission, church and pioneer leadership (here and here).

So there is something intuitive here for me, about the need to take of shoes for we stand on holy ground, about the mission of Moses as a forerunner of the mission of Jesus, about refinement, about possibilities.

Yes, I think I know what my next icon might be!

Posted by steve at 06:00 PM


  1. The angels reference this bit of Revelations 8:

    3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne;

    Comment by Christian — March 24, 2012 @ 12:17 am

  2. Do you know who wrote the one with Moses in the corner?

    Comment by Christian — March 24, 2012 @ 12:21 am

  3. Christian, there are lots of references to angels in Scriptures, so I’m curious as to why you link it so strongly to Revelation 8. Could it not be the angels in Luke 1 , that announce the birth of Christ and John? That would certainly link with the Mary figure, and the presence of the Christ within.

    In terms of “authorship” – it is rare for icons authors to name themselves – they see themselves pointing toward God and the church, rather than being individually creative.

    Thanks for dropping by 🙂


    Comment by steve — March 25, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

  4. the burning bush image according to holy tradition is the prefigurement of the birth of the messiah. the mystery that Mary by the holy spirit would give birth to the son of God , the divine clothed in humanity, he who is more expansive than the universe and cannot be contained. That she would not be consumed by the uncreated light of God . the light also seen at mt tabor. A more thorough explanation with references you can also google orthodox meaning of the burning bush. Hope this enriches your spiritual growth. To find the meaning and symbolism in byzantine icons you need to refer to orthodox hymnograhy , holy tradition and the insight of the holy church fathers. May god guide you.

    Comment by dimetra — May 18, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

  5. woops forgot to tell you when you reach the web site punch in burning bush in search then unburning bush in search. click on the high lighted links too .Theres a wealth of insight and truth reveiled there. good luck

    Comment by dimetra — May 18, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

  6. Thanks Dimetra, I’ll add your link into this post, for other travellers who might come venturing. It certainly is a deeply spiritual help


    Comment by steve — May 18, 2013 @ 7:56 pm

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