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Wednesday, 12 June 2019 07:00

Keep the Fire Burning 1: Abraham's Flaming Torch

 2019.32.Keep the fire burning 1 Abraham.main blog image

Two years ago, Kathryn and I (Mel) attended a weeklong retreat experience with 10 other young people aimed at exploring and deepening in the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was led by Jim Murphy. One night, we experienced a powerful time of prayer, where we traced the experience of those that had been touched by fire throughout the scriptures, with fire being understood as an experience of the presence of God.

We pondered the stories of Abraham, Moses, the wandering Israelites, Isaiah, Elijah, Nehemiah, and the disciples at Pentecost. Profoundly struck by the idea of considering these fiery experiences as a way to deepen my own encounter with the power of the Holy Spirit, I took each one in turn, reflecting on what the message might be for me.

In this time after Pentecost, I share the fruit of these reflections with you – the poems I wrote at the time, and the ways I now think they may encourage, challenge and strengthen me – and perhaps you as well.

For the first of these, we turn to Abraham. In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abram, promising that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars, and that his people will possess the land. He offers a sacrifice, and when darkness falls, a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the half of the carcasses. There are manifold theological and scriptural interpretations of meaning of this part of the scriptures, but what I focus on here is the power of the burning torch to remind Abraham that God is present with him.

A flaming torch, a promise
Of descendants and of land,
A flaming torch, a promise,
To reveal the Father’s plan
 
A flaming torch, a promise
In the evening of the day
A flaming torch, a promise
Of God’s almighty ways
 
A flaming torch, a promise
Upon the sacrifice I make
A flaming torch, a promise
For all of our sake
 
A flaming torch, a promise
Though the road ahead be rough,
A flaming torch, a promise
That his love’s indeed enough
 
A flaming torch, a promise
That fruit my life will bear
A flaming torch, a promise
That he notices my cares
 
A flaming torch, a promise
To companion to the end
A flaming torch, a promise
Of Yahweh as a friend.

With Abraham, may we trust in God’s promise and step out into his plan for our own lives, carrying a flaming torch that both reminds us of his fidelity and reveals it to others.  May we have eyes of faith to see where the burning torches are in our own lives so that we can courageously follow God in our own lives.

Mel Edwards