Moses, Vampire Weekend, and Divine Revelation

Note: Each Thursday, I'll be looking at one of the lectionary passages for the upcoming Sunday. Today, we're looking at Exodus 3:1-15. It's going to be a little rushed and perhaps shorter today because we had a family emergency. Thankfully everyone is okay.

Through the fire and through the flames
You won't even say Your name
Only "I Am that I Am"

When Moses asks for God's name at the Burning Bush, God responds cryptically: I Am who I Am. I Am that I Am. I Will Be Who I Am. Our English translation wrestles with it because the Hebrew is basically variations of "to be" repeated. 

It raises a question. Is God dodging Moses' question? Is God rebuking Moses for even asking? Or is God actually revealing the Divine Name; at least as humans can understand it? I'm sure this will shock you, but there is some disagreement about this.

And I think about that excellent Vampire Weekend song, because I wonder how frustrating interacting with humanity must be for God. God reveals God's self, but by being in very nature more than we can comprehend, God has to hold back. God cannot unveil everything for a number of reasons.

I wonder if the Divine Revelation actually hinges on something other than the Name. In the Vampire Weekend song, which really plays out like a piece of 21st Century Wisdom Literature, the singer experiences a measure of God when he hears a song at a festival. It doesn't erase the questions by any stretch, but there's a revelation of sorts in there. In Exodus 3:1-15, Moses asks, "How will I know?" And God responds that this shepherd will know God was with him when the freed people worship God on this mountain.

Perhaps the Divine Revelation is more tied up in the experience of what God does. Maybe we don't get a name, but we get these moments where God, in an act of unbelievable vulnerability, interacts with us and shows that the Divine is the God that loves freedom, that loves creativity, that loves us.

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