After what seemed like hours of work, it finally happened. The pile of logs I had skillfully assembled in the fire pit came to life with the warmth, power, and beauty of flame. But, it was not without toil. I had fuel - that morning’s newspaper, some piñon logs - a lighter, and most importantly copious amounts of oxygen. (That night the trusty bellows had to be employed to get the fire going.) I had to fan what began as smoldering embers into a flame, from a disparate group of sparks barely surviving into a beautiful fire that would be the center of the next hour’s conversation.
Sunday night we looked at an encouragement from St. Paul to a young priest named Timothy. He charged him to “fan into the flame the gift of God, which is in you from the laying on of my hands” (2 Tim 1:6-7). Paul was reminding Timothy that unless he cultivated and cared for this gift and calling God had given him, it could perhaps grow dormant. Not gone forever, but certainly not burning the way it should and thus not empowering his leadership of the Church.
In our own lives, we are invited to guard, cultivate and nurture with great care our own gifts and calling from God. We do this, Paul says, “by the Holy Spirit" (2 Tim 1:14). The Holy Spirit is God in us. The very Creator and Redeemer living inside of us. And this precious Holy Spirit not only sheds abroad God’s love in our hearts, he also endows us with gifts of God. He illuminates our heart and mind to follow Jesus. He is God's seal on our hearts, a down payment of God’s immeasurable love and promise of our redemption. And as we grow in Christ, He releases gifts into our life.
Our parish has been given a specific gift and calling to live in God’s presence and live out his love and connect with the people of the neighborhoods of East Dallas and beyond. We do this as a three-stream community meaning we are sustained by the Sacraments, rooted in the Scriptures, and animated in a divine way by the Spirit. It is these three-streams that we hold in tension one with another. And we do so in order that God’s calling on our lives and His good gifts for us would be fanned into flame, shed abroad in the world around us, communicating His love, grace, and saving power to anyone we come into contact with.