Fire is an important force in the Bible. A pillar of fire leads the Israelites through the night on the way to the promised land. In the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit descends as “tongues of fire” in order to inspire the nascent community of believers. And in a critical moment of salvation history, God’s presence is made known to Moses through a burning bush. The author takes pains to say that, “although the bush was on fire, it was not consumed.” God’s fire is not ultimately destructive. Instead, it is a sign of God’s presence and life-giving energy.
As children of God, we are endowed with our own share of that same fire. Our passions and drives are beautiful gifts that impel us forward and make us reach outside of ourselves. An innate drive for communion and intimacy can bring us into relationship; a desire for knowledge can make us appreciate creation; a thirst for justice can lead us toward advocacy and service. But just as our passions can lead us to life, we also can allow them to become consuming and destructive. How often do we try to satisfy our hungers with habits or activities that leave us feeling emptier than when we started?
God has kindled a fire in each of us. In fact, God is that fire. While we should never simply disregard divisions in our families, communities, and the world, we must recognize that underneath the sound and fury of our daily lives, the origin and the fulfillment of our deepest passions is the same. In coming to “bring fire to the earth,” Christ sought to fan the flames of our fundamental longing: a restless desire for God.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Chuck Lamphier ’03, ’05M.Ed., ’09MNA
Office of Mission Engagement and Church Affairs
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