Hungry for fire!.jpeg

Marsh Hudson-Knapp, hungry for fire. 

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I was talking with a friend the other day and asked her, “When was the last time your faith caught you on fire?”

What would you answer? I’d love to hear from you!

My friend reflected for a while and then answered. For some of us, even regularly active in a church or religious community, being on fire is not our hope. We seek comfort and safety, assurance and … Well what do you seek in your religious/spiritual life?

“Do you advocate catching on fire?” my friend asked me.

“Yes!” I quickly replied.

Thinking back, this was a funny exchange because it happened in church on the day of Pentecost.

I’ve always been a little afraid of roller coasters. They take you to a place of risk, vulnerability, fear and sometimes excitement or thrill. When my son was young we went to the Great Escape Fun Park. He escaped my attention for a few seconds, and then I saw him at a distance in the crowd. I rushed to catch up with him, but he had his eye on something and he was small and quick on his feet. He stayed ahead of me pursuing his goal. As the moments passed everything else in the world disappeared, and my entire being focused on catching up with my son.

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Finally, I reached him. He was two steps ahead of me as the safety bars for his seat on the Screaming Demon roller coaster locked over him. I sat down beside him and “click,” I was locked in too.

“O my God,” I thought, “What have I done?” Soon this massive beast was being dragged backward, higher and higher up a gigantic incline. With each click of the ratchets holding us farther uphill, I became increasingly frightened. Terrified!

Then a voice spoke in my mind. “If you can’t trust God riding in a roller coaster, how will you ever cope with dying?” With that challenge, I let go. I let go of fear, closed my eyes and relaxed. When the Demon finally launched forward I could feel it swaying in different directions but I thought, “This is boring.” So I opened my eyes and immediately the world whirled upside down and around. After a moment of surprise, I threw my arms in the air and yelled, “Whee!”

Pentecost, for Christians, is the event 50 days after Jesus died and headed for heaven, when God came as wind and fire to set the community aflame with divine love and power. First, the Risen Jesus breathed that Spirit into his disciples. Then on Pentecost that fire of love and faith spread like a wild blaze through people whose fear-filled lives ached for the fire of love and the amazing power of God. Within days literally thousands of people joined the followers of the risen Jesus. This burgeoning community came together in Jerusalem where people sold all their possessions and shared everything in common so that no one was left lonely or hungry or homeless because everyone shared. Imagine that happening here in Bennington!

The people of God were on fire with God-Love and nothing could stop it.

As the centuries have passed the fiery Christ movement has aged into a rigid institution in many ways. But some people even today watch for signs of fire, glimpses of contagious love and soaring Spirit, and leap to the scene, breathing on the coals and throwing their lives into the flames. They’re climbing on the roller coaster of living faith. How about you? Are you searching for the fire of love to burn in your life? In our community? In our world?

Marsh Hudson-Knapp thanks all of the people and groups whose hunger to be the fire of God’s love … for the inspiration and fellowship they bring into our life together. In particular he is grateful for the members of the Greater Bennington Interfaith Council. If you’d share your fiery experience, or search, or questions, email him at MRHudsonknapp@gmail.com.


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