The Avett Brothers are a folk rock duo from North America whose music really tugs at my heartstrings. Their latest EP, The Third Gleam, ends with a song named The Fire.
In the song, a narrator stands by a campfire and asks a variety of people standing by the fire warming themselves alongside him, “What do you see in the fire?” Those he asks include a young child, an inmate serving life, a young woman in college, a first-year preacher, and a woman of ninety, and himself.
The young child sees a host of burgeoning opportunities. The inmate sees all the people and circumstances that helped make him who he is, the young woman sees the struggles that come with the expectations of appearance that the culture places upon her, the first-year preacher sees swirling confusion, question, and loss, though he knows all about Christ and the cross. The elderly woman sees her hometown before “the roads got fast,” her late husband, and “the good Lord offering mercy.” The narrator sees all those he hurt and the hope of forgiveness.
I imagine, if we stood around the fire together, we, too, would see a variety of things in the flame and ash. For some, what we see will bring us joy. For others, it will bring trepidation. For still others, it will bring despair. Yet, whatever we see in the fire, we can remember the Risen Christ in this Easter Season. Remembering this may bring us increased joy, courage in our trepidation, or hope in our despair.
So this week, close your eyes and imagine yourself next to a campfire. Or, if you are able, stand by an actual campfire. Look deep into the fire and ask yourself what you are seeing. As you see this image, turn to the Risen Christ also by the campfire and ask, “What do you see in the fire?”
Grace and peace,
Rev. J.D. Allen