Friday, 26 August 2011

No Extinguisher Needed

Here is my favourite story about the burning bush:

"In May 2004 I was taken to the monastery of St Catherine's, at the foot of Mt Sinai. At 3:30 pm in the afternoon, when all sensible people are asleep and 'only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun', we walked past the shrine of the burning bush and climbed the mountain of the Lord... As I walked past the shrine of the burning bush, I was delighted to notice beside it a large red fire extinguisher. It looked so old it might have been there since Moses. It seemed to symbolise our ambivalent relationship to the word that comes from the burning bush, and the perpetual temptation to quench it."

Timothy Radcliffe "Do Not Put Out The Burning Bush" in Don't Put out the Burning Bush ed. Vivian Boland, ATF Press 2008.

Just as Moses was taken by surprise by God's voice on the mountainside I wonder whether carrying fire extinguishers really has any influence on theophanies. If God speaks it would seem that nothing will put out the flame even a denial of our existential value "Who am I that God would ask this of me?" Are we not people created in God's image? Redeemed by God's love? called by God's Spirit? Sent by Jesus? Who are we other than God's servants?

Peter Lockhart

Photo Creative Commons by Mike Martelli

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