1/7/01, Jesus' Baptism
of Fire Flash Forth
y uncle Winfred of Graysville, Alabama, used to tell the story about a hobo who stopped by the church one Saturday while the Men's Group was ready to eat breakfast. They invited the poor man in and the Preacher even asked him to say grace. The traveling man took off his worn and dirty hat, closed his eyes and prayed, "Through the teeth and over the tongue, if there's any left Lord, we'll give you some."
Three neighbor boys were playing in the woods and found a dead squirrel. They decided it needed a Christian burial so they found a shoe box, wrapped the Christian squirrel in a rag, dug a hole, invited in some neighborhood children to gather around the grave, and the preacher's kid repeated the prayer that he remembered his Daddy saying at gravesides, "Glory be unto the Faaather, and unto the Sooon, and unto the hole you go!"
The point of this
is that it's not always liturgically proper words that
John the Baptist promised that although he baptized with water as a sign of repentance, and the washing away of sins, when the Christ came He would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with Fire. It's the fire that matters!
God appeared to Moses from a Burning Bush that was not consumed by the fire. The Psalmist described the voice of the Lord as being powerful and majestic and one that, "Flashes Forth Flames of Fire." (29:4-7, NRSV).
Marilyn wanted a fire in the hearth on Christmas morning as we unwrapped gifts. I wanted to save the fire for a really cold day, but she pointed out that it was so cold in Georgia that the Snowman had been asking to come into the house. So, we had a roaring fire and it warmed our hearts.
The hearth in the
home is a kind of Holy Altar for it's there that the
required a lot of work, they were not spontaneous. Our
To carry this analogy
of fire and spiritual flames one step further, we
It gets mighty cold at home with no fire. This November and December we have experienced Global Cooling. I have been wearing a jacket at my desk and running an electric space heater to supplement $1.00 per therm natural gas. We are having to shell out $ 2,800 for a new furnace at home. But we must keep the home fires burning!
Yet sometimes we
neglect the more important fires in our hearts. Our
I never met any sinners so cold that they wanted the flame to go all the way out. They just wanted to go out and play in the snow and then come back in occasionally into the presence of the fire for renewal.
Perhaps the analogy
breaks down at this point for if the fire is going
The Good News of Revivification is that the once cold fire can burn once more. Renewed life can bring us back to the land of the living from the outer coldness. And we don't even want to be reminded of the "chaff that will be burned in the unquenchable fire," that Dr. Luke's Gospel describes in our text.
Let us focus on
the dove as the new symbol of the presence of the
My lifelong friend
continues to teach in the religion department of our
How about us? What's our spiritual thermometer reading today?
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor