Saturday, June 05, 2004

Touched by the Fire!

A few random yet interrelated ideas...sometimes I need to post so I can get them (temporarily) out of my head:

At least at the time God first calls them, there are few non-reluctant prophets in the Bible. God wants to hear our "Here I am, send me!" and God can overcome all kinds of qualities and lacks thereof we humans consider deficiencies and shortcomings. But God's call to "the church" really means not individuals as much as is *means* the called-out, gathered-together and sent-out Resurrection/Pentecost community, the assembly of saints where, by the power and in the power of the Spirit, the Crucified and Risen One is incarnate.

During the devastation of southern California's Firestorm 2003, one of the local meteorologists mentioned there are some desert (and other?) flowers that won't bloom because they can't bloom unless their seeds are seared and burst open by fire. As the people of the Church, we need to remember fire's purifying qualities, especially remembering the soil is more fertile, the land more productive and also a better home and shelter for animal wildlife than before the fires...all of that is true of us, as well, as the Spirit's fire touches us, equips and qualifies us (seared and burned, yet purified, reclaimed, restored, re-formed and renewed) for our responsibilities as the Church of Jesus Christ sent into all the world to proclaim and to demonstrate the Good News.

Fire carries a multitude of meanings: warmth, consumption, destruction and refinement; fire also carries connotations of eternalness and holiness. Within the biblical narratives, God frequently appears in the form of fire, and God's advent in fire assumes different meanings at various times. Sometimes God's fire means holiness, as the burning bush theophany - or manifestation of Divinity - meant holiness to Moses; sometimes in the biblical witness, just as in our own lives, God's fire means blessing, as when fires from Elijah's altar revealed God's favor. Would not the Divine Presence in our very midst be a true Hallel, Halleluiah moment? Well, to John the Baptist, God's coming in the form of fire meant judgment, the separation of the good and worthy wheat from the bad and unworthy. Then again, on the Day of Pentecost, that day we celebrate the birth of the Church, we read in the book of Acts about a mighty rush of wind and about flames of fire resting upon the heads of the gathered assembly: as Christians we claim both the Divine Breath - the ruach Elohim - and the Holy Flame!

Fire isn't a solid you can grab nor can you weigh it on a scale. Fire has potential for a plethora of different kinds of energy use, too, and fire lights our pathways and our imaginations. Fire is a synonym for a lively, living idea, and for mania: "tame the fire in the mind," a pharmaceutical company's ad for an anti manic drug encouraged. A blazing fire's flames throw brightness into the surrounding darkness and reshape the worlds they touch; fire awakens in us the possibilities of unpredictable transformations and the recognition of sacred moments in our lives. Let it blaze!!!!!

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