Like a million flowers on fire

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“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
– Matthew 28:18-20

As we prepare to celebrate Pentecost this Sunday and welcome a new class of young people into our congregation as Confirmands, calling and commissioning have been on my mind. As Christ prepared to leave his disciples, he sent them out into the world with instructions on how to make the world a better place.

In her poem “The Buddha’s Last Instruction”, Mary Oliver reflects on the words this enlightened teacher gave his own disciples as he prepared to leave them:

“Make of yourself a light”
said the Buddha,
before he died.

An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.

Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.

No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.

I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal – a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire-
clearly, I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable. Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd

Jesus also called his followers to be the light of the world.What does it mean for us to make of ourselves a light? How can the beauty and radiance of God’s love shine out from within each of us “like a million flowers on fire”? Where will the light within you shine today, and in the days to come?


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