Today, we took the kids to Chelmsford Fire Station’s open day. We had a wonderful couple of hours. There were engines to climb on, platforms to watch as they rose into the sky, fund-raising stalls – not just for their own benevolent fund but for a local cancer charity and Guide Dogs for the Blind. Children could hold a hose with one of the firefighters and put out an imaginary blaze.
But there was also education. A powerful demonstration about dangers associated with leaving a chip pan untended, let alone dousing the fire with water, scared our two as flames suddenly and loudly shot into the air. They also wanted people’s names and addresses if they didn’t have smoke alarms, because they would visit and fit alarms free of charge.
Oh, and I forgot the very reasonably priced hot dogs.
After we left, a metaphor of ministry struck me. Although the fire service is becoming better known for its educational work, such as with smoke alarms, they are better known and more glamorised for fighting fires. Yet the education is just as needed, albeit less spectacular.
Can you see where I’m going? Ministers are often most appreciated for fighting the fires of personal pastoral crises. The ongoing education is less glamorous, and less appreciated for its importance. Tomorrow morning, as many of us preach the Word – for the nth time – we shall be engaging in the unglamorous work that is less often appreciated. I know we shall hear some ‘Lovely sermon, dear’ comments and that one or two will make specific comments. However, some of the best preaching and leadership of Bible Study will be fire prevention work. Some of the crises need not happen if the preventative work is done well and heeded.
Just my thoughts tonight. Have a good Sunday.