Fire can be terrifying. Fire can be destructive. Fire can also create space for new life. When I was a kid we had the Smokey the Bear campaign: “Only you can prevent forest fires!” The US Forest Service had an aggressive policy to prevent and extinguish all fires as quickly as possible. The result was that when fires did happen they were more intense and more destructive. Now the official policy is to allow frequent smaller fires because we have learned that these smaller fires clear out underbrush and there are even trees that depend on fire to open their seed cones. Sometimes fire is necessary.
In my sermon this week I asked you to think about what we would do and who we would be if our building burned to the ground. What makes us who we are? What is truly central to being St. Dunstan’s Church together? Is it the kitchen where we cook for so many people every week? Is it the pews that were donated and dedicated to various members of the church over the years? Is it the Henry Chapel where the congregation started all the way back in 1948? Is it the choir, or our organ, or the columbarium chapel? Is it our traditional prayer book worship and traditional hymns?
All of these gifts, all of these resources, and all of these traditions and customs are a part of who we are, but they do not define us. Paula said it clearly after this Sunday’s service: “It is the community. That is what I come here for.”
Sometimes a small fire makes a forest safer and healthier, consuming grass and underbrush that can build up and threaten the entire forest. Sometime we need to set a little fire. If we take care of each other, we can try new things and make changes without losing what we value most.
Yours in Christ,