About the Theme
Spirit of Fire: Ignite, Guide, Transform
We come ignited by the mystery of, searching for guidance from, and willing to risk being transformed through God’s all-consuming fire.
As we begin this new school year we each bring our individual flames. These are our passions, hopes, and dreams. In Song of Solomon love is described as intense flashes of fire and raging flames (8:6). The Medieval root passiōn means “to suffer.” What we love is that which ignites our ministry and that in which we choose to give wholly of our work and lives. Each School of Divinity student comes with a passion for ministry that is made manifest in any number of ways. During our time at Wake Div our skillset is fine tuned in order to better live out our burning passion to minister to people beyond the community we have built here. This past May, as a part of their graduation festivities, the Class of 2013’s Hooding Ceremony was held on Pentecost Eve. It was a meaningful time as we conjoined the celebratory anticipation of the season of Pentecost with the blessing and sending forth of our graduates. At the conclusion of the service the graduates each lit a candle from the Christ candle and recessed out of the chapel symbolically carrying their flame into the world. As the incoming class, you will be invited to bring the light of your ministry into our community, marking a new beginning. Your orientation coincides with the last week of the season of Pentecost. Once again we will intertwine a divinity school milestone with the liturgical year by closing one era and starting another.
Fire is used throughout scripture: it draws believers in, guides them, and transforms them. God called Moses into his ministry through a mysterious encounter with a burning bush. The incomprehensible presence of this fire represents the simultaneous attraction and repulsion we experience in our calls (Exodus 3:2-5). The Israelites were guided by a pillar of fire as they journeyed in the wilderness. Wisdom is also described as leading individuals with a “starry flame” in the night (Wisdom 10:17). The Divine’s fire protects, guides and continues to illumine our way, even in the darkest of times (Exodus 13:21). The prophets used the illustration of metal being placed in fire to reshape and refine it (Zechariah 13:9, Malachi 3:2). In the Gospels John the Baptist proclaims that while he baptizes with water, the one who comes after him will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16). Through the the fire of the Holy Spirit we too are transformed to be instruments of God’s work.
Through the story of Pentecost we affirm that each has been touched by the fire of the Holy Spirit and each carries this flame throughout his/her ministry (Acts 2:1-4). As we come together as a community our individual light will mingle with those of our faculty, staff, and peers. Albert Schweitzer writes, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Coming to the School of Divinity is a time to explore and discern our inner fire and allow others to be present during this trying and expansive time. In addition to the individual light we carry, our combined flames unite as one in seeking to illumine the dark spaces of our world through acts of love and justice. Psalm 104 describes God’s ministers as fiery flames. As Wake Forest University School of Divinity students, faculty, and staff we come ignited by the mystery of, searching for guidance from, and willing to risk being transformed through God’s all-consuming fire.
- Abby and Sarah