Third Sunday in Lent

March 24, 2019

Deacon Blaine Barclay


There is a song by the singer songwriter Steve Earle called ‘God Is God’ The first verse says.

I believe in prophecy.

Some folks see things not everybody can see.

And, once in a while, they pass the secret along to you and me.

And I believe in miracles.

Something sacred burning in every bush and tree.

We can all learn to sing the songs the angels sing.

Yeah, I believe in God, and God ain’t me.

Someven Steve Earle can sing about bushes that are still


The story of the call of Moses, and the Burning Bush is

called an Hierophany. An unveiling, disclosure, an experience

of the holy, the sacred, G_d. Revelatory stories like this are

found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, and the New

Testament as well. The story of the Transfiguration of Jesus

last week is this kind of story.

People have experiences, where for one brief moment the

veil is torn aside, the mist is dissipated, we touch or are

grasped by a presence not of this world, the uncanny, the

Wholly Other.

These experiences are perhaps rare, or maybe it is just

that we have been seduced by the torrent of public opinion and

detoured into trivialities. Or, we don’t have the ears to hear, or

the eyes to see, or the words to describe it. Ordinary language

fails, seems flat, domesticates what cannot, what must not be

tamed. Wonder, awe, astonishment, the poetic word, a story

like Moses and the burning bush captures these breakthrough,

limit experiences best.

This mystery that makes us tremble, may come to us in the

experience of a great storm, a rushing wind, the luminosity of a

rainbow, a sky filled with stars on a cloudless, moonless night

away from the city. It may come to us in the experience of

illness, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, the beauty

of a sacred text heard as if for the first time, the stillness of the

real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the smell of incense,

sunrise, sunset, a song, a novel, the beauty of a work of art, a

burning bush or a still small voice.

Whatever way the sacred comes to us it changes

everything. We take off the shoes of our everyday life, to walk

forever on a different path. The path of burning bushes that

calls us to act with Justice, to love with tenderness, to walk

humbly with God.

We are invited into the experience of Moses today. This

text is a key text in the tradition. Decisive for subsequent

generations. Holding out for us the grammar of the encounter

with God. A sacred word that explodes all categories of

thought. Listen to an expanded translation of Exodus 3:14.

Moses said to God, if the Israelites ask me, ‘What is God’s

name?’ what am I to tell them? God replied,

“I was what I was, I am what I am, and I will be who I will be.”

“You will say to the people of Israel, ‘I Am/He Who Is/ the one

who Exists’ has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14)

First, God calls Moses by name. ‘Moses, Moses’. Listen to

God saying your name right now. God knows your name and

calls out to you. Second. How does Moses respond? “Here I

am”, says Moses. Let us answer with the same readiness to

respond. ‘Here I am’.

Like Moses, let us also be ready to take off our shoes when we

stand on holy ground.

Third. Moses wants to name this sacred Presence, this

Burning Bush not consumed. It is still burning. Moses wants to

make sense of the Holy with language. Moses is given only a

name. But a name unlike every other name. The Sacred Name

is a verb, all other names are nouns. Naming G_d is not like

naming other things. The Sacred Name, the Sacred

Tetragrammaton, cannot be pronounced, it can only be

interpreted, like a protective hedge that shelters this name from

us thinking that we have tamed it, have tamed G_d. ‘I Am Who

I Am’, but with more dynamite, more act, more verb. ‘I Will Be

Who I Will Be’. The one who hears your cry, the one who will

set you free from slavery. The God who saves.

St. Paul makes the connection for us in today’s second

reading when he says. “our ancestors were all under the cloud

and all passed through the sea, and all of them were baptized

into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same

spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they

drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was

the Christ….These things happened as examples for us.’

Jesus tells us today that there is still time for him to dig

around the roots of our lives, and to fertilize our capacity to

bear fruit. Back then, the Exodus, Moses, the Red Sea, Manna

in the desert. An example for us. But also in the here and now,

gathered around the Word, Jesus, Baptism, the Eucharist. All

woven from the same cloth. The Sacred Name unveiled for you

and me, sending us on the same mission. ‘Go tell Pharaoh, ‘Let

my People Go’. ‘Repent and believe in the Gospel’.

The Chief medical Health Officer of Kingston has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Please read and observe the six key principles outlined below.

1) The key principle is that we come to Mass to worship God. Out of justice and exercising the virtue of religion we must give God what is God’s due. That quite simply is worship, adoration and praise. Thus, the absolute essentials of Mass will be included so that the Sacramental praise of God will take place and we will be exposed to one another for as brief a time as possible.

2) The second key principle is that the health and safety of parishioners, staff and clergy here at St. Mary’s are essential and require our utmost concern and attention. Therefore, the dispensation from the obligation to come to Sunday Mass by Archbishop Mulhall continues to be in effect. Those who are sick, elderly or have other critical health concerns should not come at this time. However, that is left to your discretion. Should you make the choice to come, knowing the risks, you are most welcome.

3) The underlying principle of all of our restrictions in isolating, physically distancing, wearing masks etc. is the common good as we live out the Lord’s commission to “love one another.” We are to care for each other and at this time we are called to be as prudent and careful as we can to protect the health of everyone else and ourselves.
4) The principle for the next few weeks will be brevity. The received scientific wisdom is that the virus spreads within groups who spend a prolonged period of time together. Therefore, we will be reducing the Mass to the bare essentials.
5) Singing is considered more dangerous than speaking so you are asked to please not sing at all throughout the Mass. I will not be singing either.
6) If you have any sickness, are elderly or have a critical illness you should remain at home. The dispensation from the obligation to come to Mass continues through this time of 30% capacity. Of course, if you choose to come you will not be turned away. We will continue to live- stream the Masses until we are back to a more normal arrangement.

The Chief medical Health Officer has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
We will pray a shorter Penitential Rite.
The Gloria will be said not sung. There is to be no singing by the congregation during the Mass. Only by a cantor or as we have today a physically distanced choir in the choir loft…3 metres apart.
We will only have one reading followed by the Psalm
The second reading will be omitted.
The choir will sing the Alleluia on Sundays. During the week it will be omitted. Please do not join in.
The Gospel.
A very brief (3-4 minute) homily will follow.
The Creed will not be prayed.
There will be no petitions. Please prepare your own petitions and offer them in your heart during the Mass.
There will be no procession of the gifts.
There will be no regular collections at this time in the Masses. It will happen later. Ushers will be at the doors to receive your offering as you leave.
The Eucharistic Prayer will be prayed. This is the Most Important Part of the Mass.
The Our Father
Sign of Peace. This is a time when we won’t shake hands. Please do not wave to each other or give the two finger sign of peace. Neither of these reflect what is the intention here…You are recognizing the presence of God in the other person and praying they know God’s peace. The most appropriate gesture is a slight bow or nod of the head to the other person. You have seen me do this at the sign of peace to all of you at every Sunday Liturgy.
Please be seated.
Then the ushers will direct you to the place where you will receive Holy Communion. Please do not leave your pew until an usher has indicated you should do so.
Another usher will be close to the Communion Station to receive your Sunday Offering.
When it is your turn to receive Holy Communion. You will stand 6 feet away on the red line. The person distributing Holy Communion will say “The Body of Christ”. You will say “Amen”. Then move forward within arms length and receive the Host. Once you have received go straight out the nearest exit and make your Thanksgiving on your way home.
Aisles 1 & 5 will come forward to receive Holy Communion and leave by the side doors.
Aisles 2, 3 & 4 will go to the back to receive Holy Communion.
Aisle 2 will exit by the exit closest to the rectory.
Aisle 3 will exit out the centre door which you came in
Aisle 4 will exit out the door by the washrooms.
You are strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Receiving on the tongue endangers the person giving Holy Communion and yourself, the person receiving Holy Communion. If you wish to insist on receiving on the tongue please wait until the very end as the person giving Holy Communion should sanitize their hands after each communicant. The usher will pass you by and will come back to you after everyone else has received. Please don’t leave your pew until that has taken place.