“Fire, we follow a God who brings fire, the one who baptizes us with fire, the one who anoints us with tongues of fire, the one who refines our lives through fire, fire that consumes, fire that burns, fires that purify, but fire that divides, destroys, and can kill,” begins Cláudio Carvalhaes, Associate Professor of Worship at Union Theological Seminary in New York. This text from Luke 12:49-56 is a difficult text for us. We are often compelled, according to Carvalhaes, to reduce scripture to nice quotes that make a nice Jesus who doesn’t demand much. Often preachers feel compelled to apologize for harsh, difficult texts and texts that demand us to change are often skipped or we put them into a perspective that there are multiple interpretations in order to avoid them. Carvalhaes challenges us to move beyond ourselves and our world view to see how “worship/preaching has to do with the love of God and the love of neighbor, how we pull together our glory to God in our search for justice.” He challenges us to engage in conflict and stay together so that we can “worship God with and because of our differences.” Listen as Carvalhaes explains how this kind of living can make a difference in our lives.
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