Exodus 3:1-15 (online here)
Moses wants to know how to name God. And God’s answer is really annoying. “I AM Who I AM.” That doesn’t exactly settle anything. Of course the answer can also be translated, “I will be who I will be.” Or it might even be, “I am who I will be.” In Hebrew it all spells and sounds the same. There’s no reason not to hear it all three ways. But however you hear it, it’s still an irksome answer. What does it settle? Nothing.
But irksome as that is, it may just be the only answer that turns us to God. God says, “I am who I will be,” because God is not in the business of settling things. Instead, God is in the moving business. God is in the business of moving us, because even God is on the move. God is moving us, and moving with us, toward God’s own celebration of justice and peace and wholeness and liveliness that can’t be contained or controlled. And the only way to know this God is to let ourselves be caught up together into that motion. It won’t prevent our making mistakes. It won’t prevent disasters. But it’s all that life was ever meant to be, and the best we can do is make way for it to happen.
You see, we learn that God’s name isn’t just, “I am who I will be.” It’s, “I am who we will be.” The God who moves us toward this endlessly unfolding celebration is the God who has been our God all along—the God of our ancestors, of our friends, of people we don’t know or don’t like, of everybody’s past celebrations and failures. God is moving all that you and I and they have ever been toward celebrating a communion we still only glimpse in fits and starts. “I am who we will be.”