This Third Sunday of Advent, Women’s Group representatives will light the candle of hope. Our focus scripture is the message from John the Baptist prescribing what to do while waiting (Luke 3: 7-18). Mamie Murphy will be the preacher. We will continue to receive gifts to the special offering, Christmas Fund.
The image of fire shows up three times in the passage from Luke. It’s a disturbing image. There’s no question what’s pruned or separated from grain is destroyed. Still, it’s a cleansing image, a mesmerizing image. It signals good stewardship of the resources available by removing what no longer bears fruit. It signals a lightening from what has been sapping energy. It is the image of the Holy Spirit, refining. It’s dancing tongues. It’s an energy sometimes unpredictable and untamed.
Perhaps it’s helpful to think of a time when we’ve had the urge to toss artifacts of former lives and selves into the fire to feel free from what once held us down. God-with-us comes always with Holy Spirit and fire to renew.
The pragmatics are an ethic of release: giving away our excess to those who need it, giving away what we thought we’d claim that is more than ours, releasing our control of the situation when it will only do harm. Not as law, but just because it brings joy and makes room for Holy Presence to dwell with us in fresh ways.