Friday, July 14, 2006

Pentecostal Fireworks

This post is left over from Memorial Day. I thought you might still like to read it.

"Last night, I watched the Memorial Day fireworks from right under the bridge they were launched from. The rockets would climb into the night sky and explode straight above us, so that you’d get a crick in your neck from staring straight up. Then the flaming trails would drift down to the pavement, and sometimes the crowd would shuffle out of the way to dodge them as they landed in our midst. The ashes would float down, stinging our eyes and powdering our faces. Sometimes a larger piece would float down, and a dozen hands would rise into the air to receive it. It would drift around wildly in the night air before finally nestling in someone’s hands, a charred present from heaven. Sometimes the smoke would be so thick we couldn’t see the fireworks beyond, just the flashes of light through the cloud - like an old Charleton Heston movie, where God is veiled, with only flashes of lightning to hint at His power.

My older brother, who apparently has no soul, complained that it was dangerous. I thought it magnificent.

And so - and I know this is ridiculous, but - I’ve decided that fireworks are the only generally accepted religious event in America. People gather together and gaze at the sky, waiting for a display of power, and when it finishes, they all forget about it and go on with their lives. In Sunday School, we always ridiculed the Israelites for lacking faith while struggling through in the wilderness, even though God appeared and demonstrated his power time and again. But you can't keep faith in God just because miraculous events keep happening. When you're still stuck eating bugs in the desert, it seems a million years ago that God blew from Heaven and divided the waters. Expecting them to keep faith for it is like expecting my life in December to be still be impacted by July 4th. No matter how breathtaking the display, it seems you still always go home the same that night."


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