“The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.'” – Luke 1:35
Admit it: you love fire. Even though you’re a little scared of it, there’s a part of you that loves it, that’s drawn to it like a moth to a you-know-what.
There are fireplace people. Backyard bonfire people. Campfire people. Woodstove people. Scented tealight people. Barbeque people. Gas stovetop people, who would never dream of cooking on an electric range. And don’t forget religious people throughout the world, who set fire to millions of things every week, which we call “candles.”
Have you noticed how the fire-setting kicks into high gear around this time of year? Advent candles on wreaths, bayberry candles in the windows, chestnuts roasting on open fires (although, seriously, has anybody ever actually done that?). And don’t forget the lights on your Christmas tree, which are really just a form of safety fire that’s less likely to burn the house down.
And all of it to proclaim this: Like the sun consenting to come out of the sky and warm up your living room by burning merrily in the hearth. Like a nuclear reaction reining itself in until you can bake cookies with it. Like a blue-white star diminishing itself until it can burn at the end of your wick while you sing “Silent Night,” the Creator of Heaven and earth came to us one day as a human baby, who was the Light of the World.
You oughta set something on fire today to celebrate.
Thank you, God for fire. For diminishing yourself until you could show us the way without blinding us, warm us without burning us, and hold us without consuming us, thank you. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse, New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.