And God Came Out!
by Gary Simpson

And God Came Out - Liturgy

One: In the beginning, heavens and earth were created. God came out to create.

All: We come out to create.

One: Adam and Eve came out of the earth to live.

All: We come out to live.

One: Moses heard a burning bush talk. God came out for the oppressed.

We come out for the oppressed.

One: The children of Israel came out of slavery.

All: We come out for freedom.

One: Moses received the commandments. God came out as a liberator.

We come out as liberators.

In the voices of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, God came out.

All: We come out for the oppressed.

One: The prophets and apostles came out of the routine to show us the Fabulous.

All: We come out to show the Fabulous.

One: Lazarus came out of the tomb to continued life.

All: We come out affirming continued life.

One: In the spirit of Ghandi

All: We come out as activists.

One: In the spirit of Mother Theresa

All: We come out to touch lives.

One: In the Spirit of the risen Christ

All: We come out affirming the worth of all.

All: We come out welcoming peoples of all races, ethnicities, abilities, socio-economic classes, genders, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations and ages into our lives, our hearts and our community.

One: In the Spirit of the risen Christ

All: We come out extending a warm welcome, listening for the heart beat of the Spirit in your lives and listening to the Spirit's messages in your life.

One: In the Spirit of the risen Christ

All: We come out, because our deeds speak louder than our creeds.

And God Came Out - Scripture

Exodus 3:1-14 (KJV) Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.

And God Came Out - Reflection

As I reflected on this week, my mind went back to the 1980s and my first coming out experience, when I am came out of the closet theologically. What I experienced when I came out theologically shows some of the range of experiences people have when they come out. I faced personal attacks, rejection, affirmation and met some of the most amazing people. I grew up in a denomination where many people thought you did all sorts of things to buy God's love and to buy salvation. Some people went so far as to believe that God expected everybody to get to the stage where they could live with out sin. A dear high school and college friend learned that I believed it was all about grace and promptly said, "You are one of them, not one of us" and proceeded to inform me that he was on the right path and I was not. A few months later, I mentioned what happened in a Sunday School class of a church I was visiting. Afterward, I could hardly get out, because I was swarmed by people who shook my hand, hugged me and assured me that I was "one of us, not one of them." I met two wonderful people who taught me what I needed to know to defend my position that God is inclusive and filled with grace and who taught me how to defend what I believed from the Bible. And I was out theologically and was out for social justice in the very theology of the church.

My mind also went to a more recent experience with social justice, when the media, with no warning, stuck a camera in my face and started asking me questions about my experiences with bullying. Being outed on television news as a victim of bullying, who lived for months with death threats was not what I anticipated. I was intimidated, and, believe it or not, at a loss for words.

I wanted to talk about our feelings as our church comes out as Affirming today and tells the who world we are affirming. There is excitement and fear. Coming Out is a powerful event in the lives of all people who have a core defining identity that they start sharing with people. While the term Coming Out has been used by gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people, the process of Coming Out is a fact for many other people. I have met a number of adults who were raised in Christian homes. They learn they have Jewish blood and then Come Out. Some people with Aboriginal heritage were raised with no connection to their roots and with no understanding of who they were. As adults, they learn they not only have Aboriginal heritage, but they are eligible for Treaty Status. And they Came Out as Aboriginal. People who change religions - Catholic to Protestant, Islamic to Christian, Protestant to Unitarian - go through a Coming Out process, as they share their new spiritual identity. I know experienced educators who are Coming Out as having a learning disability or Attention Deficit, so they can better assist students. At times, Coming Out is relatively easy and painless. In other cases, people who Come Out face being disowned by family, loss of friends and threats to their safety.

Throughout the Bible are many stories of God Coming Out, of God revealing Self to people. The first Coming Out Story is in the creation story in Genesis chapter 1. God created light and Came Out as both Creator and as the Light. [1] In the last chapter of the Bible, God comes out as the triumphant Lamb.[2] Today, we heard two of the most pivotal Coming Out stories in the Bible, the story of God Coming Out to Moses at the burning bush and the story of Jesus Coming Out at His baptism. Both times, God's Coming Out changed history. In each case, God Came Out to serve humanity.

The story of God Coming Out to Moses is arguably the most important and defining act of God's identity in the Hebrew Scriptures. God chooses to identify with an oppressed minority group and chooses to identify as a divine liberator and social activist. God promises to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.

The word for Egypt in Hebrew has shades of meaning that we do not get in English. There is a sense of "a limit" and a sense of a "besieged" place.[3] The Hebrew word from which Egypt was derived means a 'narrow' or a 'tight' place.[4] You could call Egypt a closet for the children of Israel. Jewish writer and author Lesli Koppelman Ross notes that when God took the children of Israel out of Egypt, God "extricated us from the place of constricted opportunities, tight control, and narrow-mindedness, where movement was severely limited."[5]

In the Bible, Egypt has very different roles, "a place of refuge" and a "place of oppression", a place to Come Out of.[6] Egypt had these roles in both the Hebrew Scriptures. At the burning bush where God Comes Out, Moses asks God's name. One scholar believes the answer given means, "I will be what I want to be".[7] The ancients might have gotten a sense that the God who is what God wants to be is calling the children of Israel to shoot high, to reach for their dreams, to move from a slave identity to being what they want to be. Today, through our church, God is also calling the oppressed to shoot high, to reach for their dreams, to leave behind identities of oppression.

There is another, richer meaning in the name God chose to Come Out with at the burning bush. Rabbi and Bible scholar Gunther Plaut states that the Hebrew means "I will be what tomorrow demands."[8]

To a people who had been oppressed for so long they feared their oppressors, to a people who had been oppressed for so long that being free was frightening, the words of God are comforting. No matter what tomorrow requires, no matter what tomorrow demands, the God who "will be what tomorrow demands" goes with them. To those in this congregation who are social justice people to the very core, the God who identifies as "I will be what tomorrow demands" walks with you. For those who find our church's Coming Out as Affirming a little frightening, the God who identifies as "I will be what tomorrow demands" walks with you and walks with our church, as we continue to affirm and welcome those who have traditionally faced societal oppression and who traditionally not been welcome in churches.



1 Genesis 1:3-4.

2 Revelation 22:1 (KJV) Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

3 James Strong.  "A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Hebrew Bible."  Complete Word Study Old Testament.  (Iowa Falls, Iowa:  Word, 1994), 71.

4 Lesli Koppelman Ross.  "Self-Liberation:  Passover Teaches that is Possible to free Ourselves from the Pressures of Modern Society."  My Jewish Learning.  n.d. 11 Nov 2013 <>.

5 Ross. <>.

6 Walter A. Elwell.  Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books,1996. n.d. 11 Nov 2013 <>.

7 S.R. Hirsch, cited in Gunther Plaut.  "Exodus."  The Torah:  A Modern Commentary.  (New York:  Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1981), 405

8 Plaut 1981, 405.