Advent Calendar 2008

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Day Fourteen : 13th December

10th December

Sirach 48

Then Elijah arose, a prophet like fire, and his word burned like a torch.

2 He brought a famine upon them, and by his zeal he made them few in number.

3 By the word of the Lord he shut up the heavens, and also three times brought down fire.

4 How glorious you were, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Whose glory is equal to yours?

5 You raised a corpse from death and from Hades, by the word of the Most High

6 You sent kings down to destruction, and famous men, from their sickbeds.

7 You heard rebuke at Sinai and judgements of vengeance at Horeb.

8 You anointed kings to inflict retribution, and prophets to succeed you.

9 You were taken up by a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with horses of fire.

10 At the appointed time, it is written,

you are destined to calm the wrath of God before it breaks out in fury,

to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and to restore the tribes of Jacob.

11 Happy are those who saw you and were adorned with your love! For we also shall surely live.

from Chris' Pentecost sermon in 2004; full text is here/


The second Pentecostal elemental image of Spirit on our window is that of fire. It is because of this fire that we are wearing red today.

At first sight, though, this is a little curious because, unlike wind (or even water in John's gospel) fire is not, in fact, equated with the Spirit. Fire does, though, tend to appear at particularly highly charged, dramatic and mysterious moments. In addition to the 'as if tongues of fire' appearing on the apostles at Pentecost, we might recall Elijah being taken up in flaming chariots. And God speaking to Moses in the burning bush.

Fire is perhaps more a sign of where the Spirit is and what it does, than the Spirit itself. Where the wind blows, the fire flares up.

Fire is a primal energy that powers all things. It's in the sun and stars providing the motiving power for all living creation. Fire warms and illumines, with the power to sustain on cold dark nights.

And whether are as a raging inferno, or as the embers glowing on a cold night, fire is a consistently powerful image for humans of almost any culture. Maybe its that ethereal quality which flickering flames have. Beautiful and transient and hot."