Note to My Readers: Due to the busyness of my summer schedule, in which I'm serving as a camp pastor on top of my normal duties, I'll be putting my ongoing Thursday and Friday series on hold until mid-August. All other days will continue to feature new content as usual, and the Thursday and Friday slots will offer devotional and theological reflections (heretofore unpublished) from my seminary years.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


This is a poem inspired by a very ancient interpretation of eschatology from the early church. I don't claim to know if it is true or not in all its details, but I do find it beautiful. In any case, whether the final details of this hopeful vision are true or not, I hope that it encourages you to believe and rejoice in the ultimate triumph of good.


Fire, fire,

        All-consuming fire,

                A world made beautiful in fire.


We see beyond the curtain now,

Beyond the marrow and the haze,

Beyond mere substance

        And its shadows—

Into the dance at the heart of all things,

        Into the world where matter leaps for joy,

                Twists and whirls like a dervish;

Where the happy chaos of our realm

        Learns its ordered rules;

Where time itself dissolves

        Into bliss that cannot be measured

                By fragments of duration;

Where to opened eyes appear

        Heavenly armies next to us

                And chariots of fire:


Fire, fire,

        All-consuming fire,

                A world made beautiful in fire.


Everything is illuminated by it:


The universe seethes with light,

        Is suffused with light,

                Shines like a billion mirrors

                        Circling around the throne.

We look back, and see a world

        Where heaven was bound up

                Silently, right beside us.

We look back at history

        And find only part of the story,

                A broken prolegomena

                        To this one moment.

We look back at our pain

        And see the Crucifixion,

                Only the Crucifixion,

And we wonder…

        How could we have missed the fact

                That the Cross is only understood

                        After Resurrection?

So now we dance, we raise our hands,

        Now we fly,

                Now we rise, rise, rise

                        Rise to unending joy.

Like metal in the forge,

        We glow, we burn,

                We are filled up with fire:


Fire, fire,

        All-consuming fire,

                A world made beautiful in fire.


Eternity fills up the cosmos

        Like a surging tide:

                We wait, as he taught us,

                        We watch and pray.

One by one, they begin to turn—

        The last lonely ones,

                Unsheltered, alone,

                        In the fading rim of darkness:

The light sweeps over them;

        Some see and turn with wonder,

                Some fight and struggle,

                        Holding on to the vanishing horizon

                        Where the light is yet to touch.

But that horizon is fading fast,

        Against the speed of uncreated light

And slowly, caught up in a radiance

        Beyond their wildest dreams,

                They turn, they weep, they laugh,

                        They shine.

Even he, the loneliest one,

        Clawing at the flying edge of darkness

                In one last and desperate cry,

                        Finally lets go.

Borne up by clouds of long-forgotten friends,

        He is pulled back toward the Fire,

                And darkness melts off from him

                In effervescent waves.

There, in the center of all things,

        He pauses,


                        And bows down.

He shines, we shine,

        Full of uncreated energies not our own.

Around the throne we sing,

        We dance, we burn,

                For Christ is all in all.


Fire, fire,

        All-consuming fire,

                Our God is a consuming fire.

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