“Holy Ground seems quaint to us postmoderns. We think God no longer speaks to us in such ways; burning bushes are banned inside the city limits. In the Bible, we easily recognize holy ground: Shrubs burn without turning to ash; donkeys speak; big fish spit up prophets on the beach. But twenty-one centuries later, we are a pretty hard crowd to impress, even by celestial standards. Our closets overflow with shoes that protect us from gravel (and God). We can no longer tell when we stand on holy ground and when we don’t, much less discern what God would have us do—which is the point of the story of God’s encounter with Moses in the fields of Midian.
In retrospect, we know that when Moses takes his father-in-law’s sheep ‘beyond the wilderness,’ past Horeb, the mountain of God (Exodus 3:1), the experience serves as a dry run for the next flock Moses will shepherd down the same route. Maybe Moses should expect holy smoke on the mountain of God—and maybe we should expect holy fire in the sanctuary at church too—but we don’t, and neither apparently does Moses. The text nonchalantly describes Moses’ journey with Jethro’s sheep the way we describe a trip to the mall. This is familiar territory. Never mind the fact that Moses knows Horeb is ‘the mountain of God’ (just as we know the church as ‘God’s house’). The fact of the matter is that we have been here hundreds of times and so has Moses, and nothing very earth shattering has happened so far. Why should today be different? On the surface, holy ground looks like all other ground, until suddenly God speaks up.”
— Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster in
The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry, pp. 73-74.