Friday, August 10, 2018

Fire that Changes Everything

This was the week that saw a huge black plume of acrid smoke envelope the east coast of Guernsey. The dark cloud was so extensive there are satellite pictures showing it from space. Reports came in from all over the island as a raging fire blazed out of control for a couple of hours at a local scrap metal facility. Soon the Fire Brigade managed to get the blaze contained but it was many more hours till it was declared to be under control. The molten metal and oils continued to smoulder for the rest of the day and into the night with fire crews only standing down in the early hours of the next day.

Amazingly the yard was back in business within just 48 hours, admittedly only on selected activities, but it was business as usual within a remarkably short time and thankfully, nobody had been hurt in the fire. I heard an interview with the general manager of the scrapyard on BBC Radio Guernsey and he was asked what effect the blaze had had on the materials that had been affected. One of the things he said was that actually the fire had 'purified' them, and even helped to prepare them for export!

This concept of a fire that cleanses and purifies is not new. Centuries ago it was written about in the Bible and is one of the pictures used for the work of the Holy Spirit of God. John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus would one day baptise people with the fire of the Spirit. When the followers of Jesus received the power of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and began their work of spreading the good news of God's love and forgiveness in Christ, people saw a vision of tongues of fire settling on each of their heads.

But fire is never predictable or safe. This has been a terrible season of wild fires around the globe and many have died or lost their homes as a result. But there can be an element of starting again - of being purged - by fire, and so in that sense it can be one of the mysteries of our amazing world. The fire of God, however, is to be welcomed and fanned into flame. Too many people, even Christians, see themselves as a kind of spiritual fire brigade, searching out and stifling even the tiniest spark of divine life and Holy Spirit activity. 'Do not quench the Spirit' is the advice of the New Testament. In the words of the well-known song:
 It's fire we want for fire we plead
 Send the fire
 The fire will meet our every need
 Send the fire today
 For strength to always do what's right
 For grace to conquer in the fight
 For power to walk the world in white
 Send the fire today
 Send the fire today!*

*1994 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)