Setting the Earth on Fire

Week of August 14, 2016

Every good Boy Scout or Girl Scout knows that for a fire to burn it needs a spark.  That spark needs fuel to burn and oxygen to grow.  The fuel is used to burn and allow the fire to get hotter, bigger and at times more intense.  When Jesus says He wants to set the earth on fire, He is inviting the disciples and all of us to become the fuel for that fire.  He is the spark, He is the energy that keeps it ablaze.  The Holy Spirit is the oxygen that keeps the fire growing and seen, yet we are invited to become the fuel.  To do this we must allow ourselves to surrender to God’s will.  To become fuel for God’s fire we must allow ourselves to be used for God’s Kingdom to submit to His grace and allow Him to transcend our humanness to raise it to what He needs.  This is a lifelong journey and yet at times the Holy Spirit allows us to catch glimpses of it.  On one of the first Confirmation retreats we had, one of the college students came back to give a witness talk and I was stunned by her honesty.  She spoke so frankly about her jealousy of her sibling and how it took precedence during her senior year.  It was an awesome talk and God used her to directly proclaim to our Confirmation candidates the living of our faith in real situations.  She had to confront the jealousy in her life and all that she thought she deserved.  It was powerful and I remember it to this day, even though it was three years ago.  Setting ourselves in a place to do God’s will goes back to the greatest surrender in the history of the world which took place in the Garden of Gethsemane.  In that place Jesus surrendered.  As He did, God the Father glorified Him and because of this, our sins are forgiven. This gift of forgiveness is not earned by anything we do, but by the sacrifice of His life, fully divine and fully human, the Son of God.  We are to lay our lives down for the sake of His Kingdom.

In fire building there are many kinds of fuel.  The process begins with small tinder and then medium twigs are added.  There is a process to build a blazing fire.  Sometimes our issues are with what type of fuel we want to be.  We all want to be the long lasting log that stays lit the longest.  But a log cannot create the fire alone. It needs all of the other elements as well.  Many of us do not want to give way to others and to bigger kindling.  In a fire everything gets burned in the proper time.  We struggle at times to just surrender to what God needs.  To become fuel, we need to look into the Scriptures.  Moses and the burning bush captured the attention of the future leader of Israel.  He sees a fire that is not consuming the fuel.  It doesn’t go out.  At the Easter Vigil we proclaim Jesus as the Light that dispels the darkness and we use fire at the start of the celebration of the triumphant entrance of Jesus out of the tomb and into the world.  In the prayer of the  Exultet, the deacon sings of the importance of the wax of the Easter candle that allows itself to become such a holy symbol.

This is the fire we are to become.  We are to offer ourselves as fuel, as instruments, as humble servants to the will of God.  May the fire of God never go out at St. Anne.

Rev. John J. Ouper