Without the Fire, There Is No Burning

Without the Fire, There Is No Burning
Guest blog post by Nicole Aldrich, UUMC Music Director

When I learned that Adam (i.e., the Rev. Dr. Ployd) would be preaching about the Ten Commandments last Sunday, one particular choir anthem leaped to mind immediately: “Without the Fire, There Is No Burning” by K. Lee Scott. I’ve always loved the text. To me it sums up my understanding of the Law, in light of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. 

In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil.” He goes on to say, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” After he talks about sin and righteousness for a while, he ends by saying, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” 

To which I say, “Great, thanks a whole lot, Jesus!” I can’t be perfect. It’s not possible. I am a sinner living in a world of sin. Left on my own, I could never be everything that God demands that I be, and I would be lost. But thanks be to God, my sins are forgiven.

Without a Law to convict us, we would have no need to be forgiven. Without the judgment of God, I would never need a Redeemer. I would never be called to be more than I am. So I am grateful for the Law, no matter how challenging it is, because it reminds me of how very much I need God.

Without the Fire, there is no Burning,
without the Teacher, there's no Learning,
without the the Shepherd, no safe Keeping,
without the Sower, there's no Reaping.

Without the Judge, there is no Pleading,
without the Bread, no heav'nly Feeding,
without the Vine, no holy Drinking,
without the Mind, no Christly Thinking.

Without the Way, there is no Going,
without the Truth, no inward Knowing,
without the Life, there is no Living.
Without the Cross, no full Forgiving.

Without the Grave, no Resurrecting,
without the Light, no Love's Reflecting,
without the Vision, no clear Dreaming,
without the Savior, no Redeeming.


Text: Rae E. Whitney, based on a few lines by Thomas á Kempis.
© 1991 Selah Publishing Co., Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under OneLicense.net #A719868.