Friday, June 1, 2012

Spreading Flames

Wow! Those are two scary words. For anyone growing up in the arid West they are reminders of the increasing threat of wild fire through the long hot dry months of summer. They speak of a spark taking off, becoming a flame and tearing apart hillsides and fields, green grass gone blonde gone black. What is left but seed for next year, a few stalwart trees, and a saving remnant of verdure passed over but scorched. A few bushes grow, here and there. Seed spreads across the blackened earth. And still the summer waits.

The breath of a cool change in the air, the trembling hope of a monsoon with its violent release of water: these are coming – but when?

In the church, too, there is the hint of spreading flames – but it is a hopeful fear, not anticipatory dread, that draws us in fascination. What we are seeing are fields gradually ripening, the “flame” the spreading word of the gospel, which catches spontaneously and lights new lights in dark places.

Sometimes like ivy “it sleeps, it creeps, then it leaps!” (Gradually, gradually the word is spreading.) Sometimes suddenly it is evident all around us: “Why didn’t I see that before?”

God’s kingdom is all around us, coming into being, drawing us into fullness. God is at work in the world: how do we share in it? The Sundays after Pentecost (beginning with Trinity, the first Sunday in June, and extending all the way through All Saints to Christ the King) are all about this challenge.

How do we take part in God’s work in the world? Or, how are we to be the body of Christ? How do we share it? How do we show it?

We pause for a moment of stillness, after the sermon and after the Eucharist, to allow spaciousness in our spirits, to allow the Holy Breath to breathe through us. And in the stillness, we wonder. What would God say if we stopped and listened?

For the Gospel Grapevine, parish newsletter of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, June-July 2012, Edmonds, Wash. JRL+

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