Photo of Vulcan: Photo by Jessamyn West, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
And the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:21-23
If you have spent any time in Birmingham, then you have probably paid a visit to Vulcan on Red Mountain. Vulcan was created for the 1904 World’s Fair, and was made from iron mined at Red Mountain and cast at Sloss Furnace. Vulcan is the Roman god of fire and blacksmithing and was chose to represent Birmingham’s iron and steel industry. After the World’s Fair, the statue was eventually installed at its present location in the 1930s.
Any visitor to Vulcan is familiar with the view from the open-air observation platform. Once you step out of the elevator, you are greeted by the “back” of the Roman god. For first time visitors, this view usually leads to a chuckle from both kids and adults.
When I read this story from Exodus, of God’s plan to pass by Moses and show him his back, but not his face, I confess that this posterior view of Vulcan comes to mind. Moses has been in intense conversation with God. Moses has been pleading with God to be with the people. It is God’s presence that is necessary. It is the presence of the true God that the people were desperate for when they created the golden calf.
Again Moses negotiates with God and God’s mind changes in a way that creates a deeper relationship. The God of their ancestors, the “I AM,” The God that brought them out of Egypt, now reveals a new aspect — the God who is gracious and merciful. Godself cannot be fully revealed to Moses or the people, but God will go with them because they carry God’s name.
Join us on Sunday as we seek a deeper relationship with God and each other. This Sunday we will welcome the Rev. Emily Collette as our preacher. Worship is at 6 pm and supper follows. Remember to wear a mask. You can join us at Trinity Commons or on Zoom (bulletin).