The Fire and the Hammer


the beginning of a series


Is not my word like as a fire, saith the Lord? And like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)

What is it that lures the flame but the house of ego we built, which now serves our unhappy spirit as a windowless prison? What rock invites the hammer but that hardness of heart we maintain in order to go on with our life of self-will?

But where is the word of the Lord that burns and shatters these things that shackle us to the world? and why do we not hear it when we go to meeting on Sunday? Have we banished it by our dread of hearing it? Have our souls laid plans together to tell the Creator to send us no sign, no prophet, no warning or rebuke? Is this why the messages that break the silence seem so bland?


Everybody loves Jesus, the gentle Nazarene who spoke truth to power and died that we might have eternal life. Oh, and everybody loves the Buddha, the compassionate Awakened One who taught us to abandon grasping and live mindfully. What a pair of nice guys! And some of those statues of them look so beautiful, so inspiring!

Fortunately for the status quo, those statues usually aren’t seen and heard speaking. Because if the Buddha spoke, he might once again give his dreadful Fire Sermon: “all is burning.” And who ever came up with maddening “hard sayings” like Jesus the Messiah? “Eat my flesh and drink my blood.” “The world hates me, because I testify that its works are evil.” What could He mean? And worst of all: “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” What, be wiped out in a meaningless moment by the fall of a tower? We thought You represented a God of love!

The Buddha shuts his mouth and turns back into safe jade, and the crucified Christ of carved wood, eyes closed now, turns back inward. Our sanity is no longer threatened by their terrible meanings. Nonetheless we’re left wondering: if all is burning, will anything be left after the fire? Or if we take up our cross and follow Him, where will He lead us?


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