This week’s image:
The fiery coals initially evoke in me memories of leaning in to the warmth of a bonfire on a cold night. The bonfire reminds me of times when I was surrounded by the friendship and spirit of others, often singing, sometimes having deep conversations within a community of belonging.
Fire’s burning, fire’s burning,
Draw nearer, draw nearer,
In the gloaming, in the gloaming,
Come sing and be merry.
The brightness of the fire also draws me to reflect on the life of faith. What does fire have to do with faith? What is it that animates me? Where is the spiritual source of joy and energy that fuels my journey? It seems to say something about the ground of my being—God as power, danger, passion, warmth. God is untamed and untameable. As Hebrews 10:31 points out, “it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” It calls on all my courage to bear witness to another truth.
Judge for yourself how great is the one
Who lives in God – whose God is love.
Like an iron when left in embers bright
Everything is fire – everything is light
Oh Love, how beautiful you are.
Oh flame of joy within my heart. Steve Bell’s song Burning Ember
The metaphor of fire suggests that the holy one heats and hones in an immersing love that transforms. Away from the burning embers, the coals cool. Would it be too simplistic to say that away from God’s love sometimes it’s a struggle to remain alight? I know the fire in me needs to be tended, rebuilt, and lit again and again. That happens in community with others who also struggle to remain faithful, who look for good news and hope, who take risks, who speak out on behalf of the vulnerable, and who seek to be loving. God is there in the midst as enlivening fire; Jesus shows me the way to be flame-like and alight with the Good News I have known.
As a fire is meant for burning with a bright and warming flame,
So the church is meant for mission, giving glory to God’s name.
Not to preach our creeds or customs, but to build a bridge of care,
We join hands across the nations, finding neighbours everywhere.
Ruth Duck As a Fire is Meant for Burning Voices United 578
(photo credit: Ann Naylor, Reflection: Lori Stewart)