Light has come into the world. A voice crying through the vista of time calls men to walk in the light. Man’s earthly life will become a tragic cosmic elegy if he fails to heed this call. “This is the condemnation,” says John, “that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.”
–Martin Luther King Jr, ‘Love in Action’
Fire plays an important role as an image of God’s involvement with Israel. The Bible often uses the imagery of fire to denote the presence of God, the judgment of God, the testing by God, and the power of God. In Genesis 15, the covenant God makes with Abram involves a flaming torch passing between the parts of the offering Abram makes to God. In Genesis 19, the sin of Sodom, the abuse of hospitality, causes God to rain fire from heaven in the destruction of the cities of the plain. Fire is a key element of Genesis 22 as Abraham and Isaac set out in a moment of shock and horror in a test that threatens our faith as well as the story of God with the promise God made.
In Exodus, the fire of a bush burning but not consumed is the occasion for Moses to meet God and then commissioned by God to go to Egypt to demand the release of the Israelites in bondage. Exodus 9 records hail which burns in fire as it hits the ground as the seventh plague, meant to compel Pharaoh to release Israel and let them be free. Fire is central to the night of the Passover, when Israel is instructed as to how to cook the lamb they are to consume because this night, one of the mixed emotions of pain and release, is a night like no other. And God uses fire as a nighttime companion for Israel, lighting their way as a pillar of fire as they make their uncertain way to freedom; then that same pillar of fire becomes the threat to the pursuing Egyptians and the cause of their panic and ultimate destruction in the Red Sea.
The fire and wind of Pentecost is an event meant to unify the disciples and open them to an understanding of life and faith beyond boundaries. As the people of God they’re no longer part of a nation, a race, an ethnicity, even a family. The identity of God’s people comes in the power of community given to all present, and all to be included as equals. Fire can get our attention like nothing else can.
In our own time, the fires we experience are the language of pain, fear, hurt, and oppression. In our own time, the fires are a symptom and a result of the long legacy of broken relationships by racial hatred and superiority; they are a symptom and a result of a society built on bondage of God’s people. Fire can be scary as it consumes what we see around us, and yet fire can be the presence of God and the opportunity to get our attention if our hearts are not hardened. May the fires of this Pentecost be an opportunity for us to not fear the fire or cling to what it consumes, but find within it the opportunity for a new covenant with God and with one another, endure the uncomfortableness in judgment and testing, hear the calling and instruction, and find a companion as we go forward as a new people with a new sense of freedom.
Gathering Online: https://bit.ly/TCZoom
Tuesday Checkin on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join Thomas and Kelley on Zoom. This is a time to check-in or just say hello.
Sunday Evening Prayer on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join us on Zoom for a service of prayers and scripture.