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The Publisher's Desk

The Publisher's Desk

On fire.


The best part about camping as a child is the chance to play with fire. You may not be allowed to build it yourself, you may not be allowed near it, but even the vicarious experience of watching someone else a few feet away bring light and heat out of twigs and straw is worth the reheated food and the night in a cold tent. (For Robert Wyllie’s thoughts on the tragic side of childhood fires, see page 25.)

Fire appears many times in the Bible; it is an angel with a flaming sword “which turned every way” that guarded Eden and the tree of life after Adam and Eve were banished from it. The apostles at Pentecost were marked with “cloven tongues like as of fire.” The Lord guided Gideon to victory over the Midianites without any bloodshed by frightening them with torches and loud horns. (For Jonathan Culbreath’s meditation on holy fear, see page 36.)

Then of course there is the story of Moses and the burning bush: a fire which fascinated him so that he thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” Thus did the Lord speak to Moses, and reveal to him the way He would deliver His people from slavery in Egypt. (For Daniel Luttrull’s study of American chattel slavery, see page 59.)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three servants of the true God who refused to worship the idols of Nebuchadnezzar, were thrown by the spiteful king into a “burning fiery furnace” to die. Nebuchadnezzar was astonished at what followed: “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” God had delivered his servants who trusted in him. (For Nic Rowan’s review of the wrong way to seek and receive aid, see page 21.)

Readers will hardly need reminding of the fires of Hell in this small space; for our symposium on the subject, see page 40.

But even among all these and more, the invocation of holy fire that weighs most heavily on me most days comes from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, an exhortation to be lived each and every day:

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

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