If I need to get something done, sometimes I like to clean first.  Tidying up a space makes room for what I am doing, and it makes sure I can find the tools I will need when I need them.  But it also helps me get excited about the work itself.  Sometimes the hardest part of a job is just getting started.

John’s specialty is “cleaning.”  His mission and ministry centered around a baptism of water, which washed away sins.  It “took away the bad,” but it was missing something.  What replaced the bad?  What good thing went there?  The answer, of course, is the “fire” of Jesus.  This is the gift that the Father wanted to give.

Yet just as I clean up to make room for work, baptism also cleans us up for work.  When we think about fire we tend to think about energy and warm and enthusiasm.  We think about something that is useful, perhaps even destructive it’s so powerful.  This is power that God trusts us with, but unlike a gift of water that just cleans us, the gift of fire motivates us to go help others.  John spent his ministry standing on the bank of the Jordan, but Jesus traveled everywhere, going to where people already were.  John knew he was a sinner, and he was able to tell people about sin and give them a way to deal with that.  Yet Jesus stretches far beyond to answer the question “now what?”

So as we gave together today, we pray.  We pray for the gift of fire when it seems in danger of going out.  We pray our eyes may be opened to places and people that need God’s fire.  And we pray that we may have the courage to receive God’s fire and share it with others.

Peace ~ Fr. Dan