On Pentecost Sunday, as we went out in peace to love and serve God and our neighbors, I closed our service with a scenario to act on: the Holy Spirit soared through our sanctuary and in Her enthusiasm, She knocked over the candles on the table, which were still lit at the time. “Let the fire of the Holy Spirit burn in your hearts,” I implored, “but please exit as quickly and safely as you can through the nearest accessible exit: either down two steps and through the columbarium chapel, or out the back and down the ramp to the parking lot. We’ll take a headcount outside and then share fellowship as usual.”
I am assured that our sanctuary is very unlikely to catch on fire, but regardless, the flames of the Holy Spirit inspired me to call for a fire drill Pentecost morning. Remembering that the original structure of our church burned down in 1951, I think that it’s important to occasionally refresh ourselves on our emergency preparedness. Have you ever been a part of a fire drill at a church before? Have you ever taken note of where our fire extinguishers are located? Do you know which exit is the most accessible from where you usually sit? Remember that the most accessible exit might not be the closest–if you use a walker or have trouble with steps or an uneven patio, you’re better off exiting through the main sanctuary doors and not through the chapel.
Did you know that an average of 25 home fires started by candles are reported every day in the US? It’s important to keep lit candles at least a foot away from anything that might catch on fire, to keep wicks trimmed short, and to never leave a burning candle unattended. Alternatively, there are options for flameless LED candles or electric wax melters that can make a room smell like a scented candle is burning. If you’re committed to your real candles, make sure that you keep them on a sturdy and heat-resistant surface or stand, and away from drafts, paper, children, and pets (ESPECIALLY cats named Gingersnap who are completely entranced by fire).
The Bible is full of stories of big things happening that people didn’t expect–I’m sure that the Israelites would have had bread prepared, packed, and ready if they had known what day they would have escaped from slavery and fled from Egypt. Do you keep emergency supplies in your car, in your home, in your office, in your basement? I admit that my familiarity with tornadoes is mostly limited to The Wizard of Oz, but I have put some water in the basement, and I’m planning to take some flashlights, blankets, shelf-stable food, and a couple good novels down there, too. I’d love to get some pointers from people who associate tornadoes with something other than cute little dogs and green witches! I grew up having regular earthquake drills, but tornadoes were not something I was trained on.
May the Holy Spirit inspire us daily to walk closely with Jesus, and may we draw ever nearer to God, even in times of danger and uncertainty.
shalom and agape,
Rev Leia Rose Battaglia