A Meditation on the Bible Readings for Sunday, January 9, 2022: Isaiah 43:1-7, Acts 8:14-17, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22, and Psalm 29
by Danny N. Schweers.
In Isaiah 43:1-7, God tells us not to fear flood and fire but to trust in our creator. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
Although too many people have to endure real floods and fire, we can take Isaiah’s comforting words to mean that we need not be scared out of our minds when faced with disaster. We can have faith that God is with us in every situation no matter how dire or otherwise hopeless. No matter how much we and those we love suffer, even if we and those we love should die, nothing can separate us from God’s love. Defeat and destruction are never the last word. The Word endures.
Psalm 92 tells us, “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord is upon the mighty waters.” We are also told, “The voice of the Lord splits the flames of fire … the voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare. And in the temple of the Lord all are crying, Glory!” Perhaps that is what our first response to flood and fire should be, to cry “Glory!”, to react in awe, corny as that may sound to us rational, civilized Episcopalians.
If you are like me, these days such talk of flood and fire make you think of the recent fires in Colorado which destroyed hundreds of homes, and to think of the terrible tornadoes on the night of December 10 that killed 93 people in Tennessee and nearby states. In both, we saw land stripped bare. But we also saw the faith of people in the face of loss. May we do as well!
I am struck with how, in the New Testament, water and flame become the symbols of baptism. In the third chapter of Luke, John the Baptist says, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Water welcomes us into the church. Fire is how we describe God’s inspiration.
Both water and fire tie us to the Lord. We are people of water and of fire, washed clean in the water of God’s saving grace and on fire with the Holy Spirit. Water and fire are native to us. As Christians, water and fire are part of our being. May it be so!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Danny N. Schweers serves on the Vestry at SsAM and wears other volunteer hats as well, including webmaster for this website. Every week he writes a prayer to go with one of his photos and sends them out to subscribers. Click here to see his Photo Prayer website.