The prophet Malachi speaks of God sending a Refiner’s Fire that will consume God’s people, encouraging out the potential within and turning them into precious gold. Transforming the potential, as Paul was later to write, from glory to glory becoming more and more Christ like.
The Holy Spirit came down upon those gathered on that first Pentecost and transformed them.
Transformed them from holding potential to tell their stories, into people alight with the Holy Spirit, who could and would tell their stories, tell them to every nation.
Transformed them from people whose first thought was about their own desires and safety, into people whose first and only thought was about God’s Kingdom and glory.
Transformed them in the Holy Spirit’s refining fire from those who had seen and believed, into the precious carriers of God’s love, peace, joy and hope eager to share their faith that God’s promises were, are and will come true.
Transformed them into precious gold.
This picture Coalbrookdale by Night by Philip James de Loutherbourg painted in 1801, resides in the Science Museum in London. However a very large copy of it was part of my childhood.
It hung above the fire in the snug, where the TV resided and there was usually a fire in the hearth, the place where if we were ill we were placed with an eiderdown the fire roaring and the windows open. My mother was firmly of the belief that you could, at the same time, both sweat and freeze every and any ailment out of a child. For several months I had a major problem with my throat and that room was my home during the day as I was not permitted to go to school. I was even allowed to eat and do the work the school had sent in there, such things were not usually permitted. It was one of two rooms in the house we would find my mother, if she wasn’t in the kitchen, baking, cooking, ironing, washing, then we knew she would be in the snug reading or knitting, Unless she had the knitting or sewing machine out and then we would find her in the dinning room, but the noise always gave those activities away, but I digress.
Looking at that picture today I don’t think the copy we had was a particularly good one, but then I suppose reproduction techniques weren’t the same as today. My memory tells me the picture was far darker, there was virtually no detail in the buildings, and the horse was but a lighter blob. It was predominately just this mass of red and orange fire. I remember when I saw the picture later in life and was quite surprised, even shocked, by how different it was. As a child I thought it was a massive fire, I knew the fire was a foundry but thought it had spread and taken hold of the building itself. Yet the reality is the fire’s glow and heat are but a reflected light show in smoke.
When I thought I might paint a picture for Pentecost it was the memories of this picture that came to mind, not to reproduce it but to try and grasp that childhood memory of an all consuming fire and my later realisation of reflected glory.
This particular painting has been a large learning curve, I am glad I choose to start it back at the beginning of Lent for it has taken me all that time to finally get it to a place I am happy with. I did wonder at one point what had possessed me to paint a picture A1 size, however in writing this post I think that maybe the size too has been influenced from my childhood memories for the image that hung over that fireplace of Coalbrookdale by Night was even larger.