One of my favorite things about the anticipation of fall is a good campfire - well, after the pumpkin spice lattes of course. Sitting next to a fire and watching it burn, the crackle and pop, the musty scent it leaves on your clothes, the mug of hot chocolate wrapped in between your fingers as a slight chill runs down your spine. The fire is warm and comforting, a pool of light in a dark night. Ah, fall.
People gather around it and feel safe. Yet, at the very same time, it's dangerous. If we get too close, we feel the searing heat on our faces and back away. And anything that gets thrown into the fire is much consumed in short order. In fact, it's really hard to describe exactly what fire is. It's actually much easier to describe fire by what it does. Whatever the case, everything that fire touches is changed.
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful that I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." - Matthew 3:11-12
John the Baptist equates God's presence in us with fire. Jesus is now inviting us to a life, a passionate life, which is a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. God's presence in us is a source of sustenance and security in the midst of a dark and cold world. The fire burning within us leads us through dark places.
God's invitation to us is to let him into our lives, to dwell with us and give us his warmth, comfort, and safety. And to demand everything of us, to change everything he touches and consume all that is not like him.