Have You Lost The Fire?
I find myself saying “Hallelujah” in church these days.
Whenever I hear about Jesus and the things he taught and the miracles he performed—the people he healed, I just lose it.
A fire wells up, and I get goosebumps, and tears gather in the corner of my eyes. My girls always ask, “Daddy, are you crying?”
That’s what one of them asked the day after Easter when we watched the movie The Miracle Maker.
"Yes, I'm crying."
"Ha. I don't know. I just love Jesus and I love seeing him heal."
"This movie is awesome, Daddy."
"Yes, it is. And the best part? It's a true story!"
We just celebrated the story last week. But Monday comes quick, doesn't it? And the goosebumps we feel in the pews on celebration Sunday can quickly fade.
But what if they stayed? What if we kept the fire every day during the week?
But how? That's the question isn't it.
Have you ever noticed how when you increase the amount of times you say, "Thank you" during a day or week, you grow more grateful?
I think the same thing happens in our spirit's. If the fire dies quickly from Sunday to Sunday, perhaps we're not saying Hallelujah enough. Not saying, "Thank you, Jesus" enough.
I found myself saying "Hallelujah" during the movie.
And as I watched and hallelujahed, I noticed the beauty of the resurrection crescendo. And the fire inside grew.
Have you ever thought of it? Three resurrections.
I watched in delight as the claymation Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter by raising her back to life, then, only days later it seemed, he did the same thing on a much broader scale, and then once more.
Follow the crescendo with me. And if you want to whisper or shout "Hallelujah" while you read, I won't tell anyone. In fact, I'll join you.
Jairus’ daughter suffers from sickness. He seeks medical help but the physician gives him no hope for his daughter’s life. In the film, the doctor gives Jairus something to ease her pain.
Jairus and his wife despair of the news. But then his wife hears of this new prophet who can perform miracles.
Jairus doesn’t believe it at first, but finally succumbs to his grieving heart and reaches out one last time for hope. He goes to Jesus, to beg him to come heal his daughter.
But by the time he arrives and speaks with Jesus, his servants catch up to him and tell him that he’s too late. His daughter is dead.
But Jesus continues on and goes with Jairus to the house. Now only close relatives know of the girl’s condition, and it was only hours earlier that she was still alive. So news of her death most likely stayed within the family circle.
Jesus walks into Jairus’ house, sits beside the young girl, and tells her that it’s time to get up. And, as if sleeping, she wakes from the dead. Jairus’ family rejoices.
Later on in the narrative, a messenger finds Jesus and tells him that his dear friend Lazarus has taken ill, and probably will not live.
But Jesus doesn’t Uber over to Lazarus’s village and heal his sickness immediately.
No. He lingers, for days.
By the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus has been dead for four days! The body has been wrapped, and entombed. It’s over.
Lazarus’s sisters cry out to Jesus when they see him and agonize over his late arrival. How grief grips us and shakes us so.
The scene is different than the one with Jairus’ daughter.
Everyone in the village knows Lazarus is dead. The mourning time has begun. And people have followed Jesus to the gravesite because by now he’s a big deal throughout the land.
So Jesus, in front of the people, prays. He cries out to God, addressing him as his Father. What Jesus is about to do, he does for the belief of the people.
He asks the stone to be rolled away. Then, he cries out to his friend.
His friend who is on the other side of death.
His friend, dead and gone.
His friend he wept for, stricken with grief.
And he yells into death, into darkness, and calls his friend by name, out of the tomb.
“Lazarus! Come out!”
And the place goes wild. Word gets back to the religious leaders. Now they must do something for all the trouble Jesus is stirring up. For crying out loud, the crowds follow him into Jerusalem, yelling after him, “Messiah!”
They wanted a king, to overthrow Rome. To set them free. He’s the one!
Or so they believe. Or so they make him out to be their own personal messiah, shaped by their own desires.
And then we see events unfold that lead to the apprehension and condemnation of the carpenter from Nazareth. Finally, the Roman and religious leaders march him out to a hill called The Skull and they hoist him up on a Roman cross and watch him die.
Now the world is watching. All the important people.
It’s not only Jairus’ family. It’s not only the villagers who knew Lazarus. The scene is set for one more resurrection.
After three days, Mary, a follower of Jesus, visits the tomb where they laid her master. But when she arrives, she only finds the residue of heaven. Fragments of angel light strewn everywhere. The supernatural puncture marks into the natural.
The stone. Who moved the stone?
She runs into the tomb.
Where have they taken him? Thieves! Where is my Lord!
Can you hear Mary? I can.
She exits the tomb and hunches down on a nearby rock, sobbing.
Where is my Lord?
And then the voice.
The voice from out of the darkness. The puncture-voice that crushed hell. The voice from out of the wilderness of the dead.
The friend of sinners. The friend of the cast aways. The friend of the hated.
Mary, he says.
She hears his voice, and knows him.
She hallelujah-runs back to tell the despairing lot of disciples. John and Peter race to their Lord.
It is as he said it would be!
Go, and tell the others! Go! Go! Go!
And for forty days he meets with his followers, appearing before hundreds.
And none more dramatic than the visit with his disciples who were walking to Emmaus.
He walks with them. They tell him the news, astounded that this Passover Pilgrim doesn’t know what has unfolded over the last few days.
And he calls them fools for not believing all that they’d been taught in the Scriptures. And then he unfolds to them the Scriptures, beginning with Moses.
They invite him to dinner. He joins them. He lifts the bread to bless it, to break it with them. As he himself was broken.
And their eyes are opened!
They see him. They really see him.
The death before their eyes. Their doubt enfolding their lids. Their veiled hope. All vanished. All wiped away at the appearance of their Lord. Their master.
And they hallelujah-shout and he vanishes.
Did not our hearts burn? Did not our hearts burn within us when he taught us. When he sat with us. When he broke bread with us.
And he calls to them in the hallelujah moment and he tells them all to go. Tell everyone.
He promises his presence to them always. The Comforter will come and bless their belief with fire. The fire from Moses’s bush. The fire that lapped up the water on the alter in front of the pagans. The fire they followed in the wilderness.
For he is the fire, my friends! And he is seated at the right hand of God, all the while the Comforter sings fire into our hearts.
And the Comforter moves his followers to gather together, to remember the events of that Sunday. What we call Easter.
And so they do. For two thousand years they gather. And they call those gatherings little Easters. They called it that to remember. To gather and encourage one another.
They say to each other, the Fire remains. He leads us. He calls out to us. He heals us. He teaches us.
He moves with power to raise the dead, and he moves all within the confines of the Temple we call our bodies. There we are, walking Temples of Holy Fire.
And what do we do with it?
Do we do our duty, and sing the songs, attend the services, do good things? Have the money changers ransacked our Temples? Have they bought our hearts? Veiled our Fire with the shade of the world?
Are we so much removed from Easter Sunday that we no longer feel the Fire?
I’m coming to you from the wilderness. The place of locusts and honey. Out here the fog of culture fades away and into the ruggedness of faith. And I’m singing my hallelujah song to you now.
I’m throwing off the shackles of all those things that want to tell me my Fire isn’t real. That my Fire is offensive. That my Fire won’t make me happy.
Those Shadow-shacklers don’t know my Joy.
They don’t know how the Comforter breathed Fire into me.
They don’t know how I burn with heaven in my lungs.
They don’t know the angel light I walk in and leave behind.
They don’t know my Master, my Lord.
They can’t feel my Fire.
Have you lost the Fire, friend?
Have the Shadow-shacklers found your heart? Have they thrown shade into your Temple Fire?
Run to him, then. Run to him, now.
Wake up each morning, and leave your phone behind. Leave your laptop behind. And run the path of Mary. Try to keep up with John.
Talk with Him on the mountainside. Walk with him on the ocean. Listen to him during the watches of the night.
Sing hallelujah. And let others hear you.
For every week is passion week. Every Sunday, Easter.