Luke 12:49-56 (NRSV)
Verse 49"I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! Verse 50I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Verse 51Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! Verse 52From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; Verse 53they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
Verse 54He also said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, 'It is going to rain'; and so it happens. Verse 55And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, 'There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. Verse 56You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
The largest wildfire ever to burn in Yellowstone National Park happened in 1988. The following year my family took a camping trip to Yellowstone. It was a great time to go. Because of the fire the attendance was low. I was expecting complete destruction. What surprised me was all the green growth and beautiful flowers that were blooming in the areas that were supposed to have been destroyed by fire. Jesus reminds us today that he has “come to cast fire upon the earth.” Fire in the Bible symbolizes the presence of God and God’s judgment. God’s judgment can be destructive, especially to the sins that we have committed. But the good news is that the destructiveness of sin is removed by Jesus’ love and forgiveness. That fire can then lead to a new life in Christ. Too often we view God’s judgment as only negative and forget about the positive outcome that can happen because of it.
Protecting God, we pray today for all the firefighters who are battling wildfires in the US. Protect them from danger. Continue to be with those who have lost homes and possessions because of fires. Surround them all with your love and protection. Amen.