You’re going to think I’m making this up, but it really did happen.
It was a lovely holiday party. My friend Lynn had decorated her home from top to bottom, right down to the pretty candles in the dining table advent centerpiece one of her kids made. We left our finger foods and desserts on the table while 30 or so of us gathered in the next room to pray.
While we were praying, I noticed one of Lynn’s children came and got her. I could hear her in the dining room whispering an inordinate number of “oh no’s” so I went to see if I could help. I found Lynn smacking at the centerpiece that had combusted into a little campfire in the middle of the table. I snatched up the nearest towel and started batting at it with her, but I think we were literally fanning the flames.
Then I did what seemed most logical at the time. I hollered. In less than two seconds the room was filled with smoke and screaming women. That’s when the smoke alarm went off and Lynn’s husband came bounding down from upstairs. Our hero. He grabbed the four corners of the tablecloth and picked up flames, food and all and took off
running for the front door. Lynn and I put out the leftover flames on her table.
Her husband made it to the door and hurled the blazing bundle outside with everything he had.
Wouldn’t you know it? It landed right on top of one of their shrubs. It was winter so, while I call it a shrub, it could probably more accurately be described as “kindling.” It shot up in a bigger inferno than ever. I wondered if the whole house might be taken down by one contrary centerpiece.
That’s when one of the ladies scooted out the door carrying our huge bowl of punch and flung it on the shrub. No kidding, she extinguished the burning bush with fruit juice, sherbet and a lovely ice ring. You’re going to think I made that up just so I would have a good “punch” line, but again, it’s the honest truth.
We all stood there blinking in silence for a second, looking at the charred bush with all our smoking hors d’oeuvres lying around it. There were scattered dessert carcasses everywhere. Gruesome. I announced, “Dinner is served.” Who doesn’t love dinner en flambé?
In the Bible’s original burning bush story, God used the bush en flambé to get Moses’ attention. Evidently a tap on the shoulder wouldn’t have been nearly as effective. We’re told in Exodus 3:2 how God “appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.”
It got his attention, alright. Thankfully, we can talk to God with or without flaming vegetation. In fact, I hope I never make him work that hard to get my attention. When the Lord spoke to Moses through the bush, Moses answered in verse four, “Here I am.” He wants our prayerful attention just that way. It’s a good thing to keep a burning passion to pray and a ready heart to respond. A very good thing.
Incidentally, if you ever encounter any kind of home brush fire, Lynn mentioned that being well-insured is another good thing.
RHONDA RHEA / contributing columnist