Acts 2:3 – They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. (NIV)
Yosemite National Park in California is world-renowned for its stunning glacier-created landscape. Into its glacier-carved valleys flow leaping waterfalls. Giant Sequoia trees dwarf their human visitors. Gigantic masses of unbroken granite rise thousands of metres above the valley floor.
For many years, the park was also the site of a spectacular evening show. Camp Currie was located nearly 1000 metres below a massive granite outcropping called Glacier Point. Every day, workers would take ten wheelbarrow loads of fir tree bark to Glacier Point and start a fire in the bark in order to reduce them to glowing coals. Every evening at 9 o'clock, up to 3000 people would gather below on the canyon floor, waiting to hear these words penetrate the enveloping darkness: "Hello, Camp Currie." All the people, with one voice, would shout heavenward: "Let the fire fall!" Unseen workers would then shove the pile of glowing coals over the edge, causing the night sky above Camp Currie to become lit up by what looked like millions of giant fireflies. It was an electrifying event that when once seen was never to be forgotten!
Nearly 2000 years ago, an unforgettable event occurred when fire fell from heaven on a group of believers gathered in Jerusalem, and this world has never been the same since.
Over the years, many different symbols have been used to describe God's presence: Heavenly Dove, Breath of God, Wind of God, and Comforter. We are also reminded that another symbol associated with God's presence is fire. Moses meets God in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2). The writer of Hebrews proclaims that "our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29 NIV).
Therein is the problem that we face. Do we really want the fire to fall? Do we want God to come among us? Yes, fire warms us and cheers us. But fire is also a sign of God's consuming, awesome presence. Do we really want that? Can we truthfully say, "Lord, let the fire fall?" Do we want this fire — which will most surely bring changes — coming into our lives? Do we want to be set on fire by the Heavenly Fire in such a way that we can't help but declare what God has done?
On this Pentecost Sunday, may we, in the quietness of our hearts, respond: "Yes, Lord, let your fire fall on me!"
- O Holy Flame of God now burning,
You are the power of Christ returning,
You are the answer to our yearning:
Spirit, now live in me.