A recent New York Times book review of two books assessing the state of public education began this way: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” The reviewer continues, “The greeting-card pithiness of this maxim obscures what is in fact a useful metaphor” and goes on to “introduce us to educators who stick to their kindling.”
We have similar incendiary intentions here at Saint Peter’s. It is not the work of the Spirit to try and fill us up, not even to fill us with all manner of good things. Rather, it is the work of the Spirit and, I contend, on a good day – even the work of the Church, to light a fire in our hearts.
Our life together in this congregation and community is not about filling ourselves with answers. It is about awakening to the passions of our hearts. It is about supporting one another as we each face difficult chapters – of loss, hardship, hurt or impossible choices. It is about seeking the face of Christ in the person whom we find troubling. It is about discovering the unique gifts that God has given to us alone. It is about pulling together to create a society that is merciful, just, and generous. It is about praying – alone and together – asking God to show us the Way.
If you’ve ever sat around a camp fire, you know the allure of finding another stick, another piece of wood, to add, so the flames will burn brighter. We’re all in this together. Let’s stick to our kindling and set this place on fire with the light and love of Christ.