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Thursday 12 September 2019 – The Fire of God

Heb 12:18  You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, 19  and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. 20  (For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.” 21  Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”) 22  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23  and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25  See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! 26  At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.” 27  This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what is shaken–that is, created things–so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; 29  for indeed our God is a consuming fire.

This is poetry. It is an invitation to set aside reasoned, logical thinking and instead allow the words to light up the imagination. This is the language of grandeur, and angels, and assemblies, and of a heaven-and-earth-rattling voice. Such words are essential if we want to encounter Divinity that is beyond human description. This is a God who cannot be controlled, and instead is worshipped “with reverence and awe”.

There are moments when we need to pause in the presence of the Divine. This is a moment when “all our strivings cease”, and we allow the “consuming fire” of God to strip away that which is false and expose life-sustaining truths.

 Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

Text: John Greenleaf Whittier, 1807-1892 

Ordinary 20 / Pentecost +13

42 The Kingdom Comes

The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 261.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day
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“To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” Finley Peter Dunne (1867–1936)