Sunday Reflection: Fire is a multivalent biblical image. It can represent the presence of God – think pillar fire in Exodus (13:17-22) and the tongues of flame at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Fire also represents purification — Zachariah (13:9) and Malachi (3:2-3) each refer to God’s intention to purify Israel like a refiner purifies silver by fire. Jesus embodies the presence of God which simultaneously judges and purifies. Baptism also is used in the New Testament to represent both judgment and purification and was connected with fire by John (3:16-17). The baptism of which Jesus speaks seems clearly to be an event that dominates every moment of his mission. The One who embodies the presence of God is not simply meting out the fire of judgment and purification but bears it also himself.
The kingdom of God he proclaims represents a new order governed not by might but by forgiveness, not by fear but by courage, and not by power but by humility. We find the courage to look forward to discern the opportunities and challenges of our own ministry, joining our hopes and fears, and to serve as disciples of Jesus Christ. What imaginative renewal do you hope for in our St. Michael’s community?