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No Fire Without Heat and Smoke! (06.14.05--The Tie That Binds--1 John 4:19)


It’s been hot here lately at Beech Springs. It has been unusually hot and humid. The beech woods understory that blankets our little valley are getting crisper under foot daily. The trilliums came and went and are withered already. Most late spring blooms are spent and many of the deciduous trees are beginning to drop leaves. In order to preserve moisture for the many, the few must be sacrificed. Your Creek is but a trickle and looks for everything like it might after a long summer heat wave. It’s been hot and humid; but life goes on.


One thing for certain, come heat or humidity, we make trash––burnable stuff that must be disposed of on a weekly, weekend basis. Since we don’t have trash pickup in the valley, I, along with my neighbors over the valley, still burn our burnables. Every Saturday you can see the smoke plumes poking through the beech and maple canopy, like little fingers pointing downward at each neighbor’s home emphasizing the old adage, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”


Even though the trash needs to be burned regularly, the dry and hot spell we are going through does change a few things. Normally, when we burn trash it is a time of reflection, as we stand beside the forest altar and watch the fire remove our trash for another week. But, this year, as I watched the fires plumes reach out toward the canopy above, I mused how it be great if there was some way to turn off the heat when we needed to. You know, some chemical we could add to the trash mixture that would dull the fire’s radiation so that it wouldn’t be quite so hot. Such is the rambling, even nonsensical thought of a middle aged trash burner on a hot spring evening.


But, where’s there’s fire, there smoke and a whole lot of heat. There is little that we can do to change the nature of the fire. Some fuels burn hotter than others. Some burnables smoke more than others. Ultimately, however, the match that lit the trash becomes an inferno for a period of time and that inferno gets hot and smoky. There is no getting around it. You can’t have fire without heat and smoke.


Just as the fire cannot be altered to emit no heat or create no smoke, so too we cannot hold a burning faith within our hearts except that it must erupt into spontaneous love for the One who sent that love (the sacrificial smoke arises heavenward) and a burning desire to take that love and share it with others (the heat of faith that cannot be contained within a loving heart). As a fire must emit heat and smoke, so a faithful heart cannot be contained. It can only be satisfied when the love that has ignited it burns freely and the products of that combustion are spread abroad. You can’t contain a burning, Christian heart.

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