Have you ever known anyone that lost everything in a fire?
When I was in High School, my best friend Rippy suffered a house fire. The house was not totally destroyed but Rippy lost everything from his room. The fire had a huge impact on Rippy’s family but he was personally devastated by the loss of his 8-track collection. For any young people reading this, 8-tracks were a precursor to cassette tapes. Rippy probably had 100 or more albums, all of which were destroyed by the heat of the fire. Music was important to Rippy and he had invested a lot of time and money into acquiring his collection – losing his collection hurt him deeply.
Today’s reading from Revelation paints a descriptive picture of people mourning over their material losses. The passage reminds us of the transient nature of possessions and it caused me to recall this incident from my youth.
It wouldn’t be fair to Rippy, if I didn’t tell you what happened in the months after the fire. He quickly got over the loss of his 8-track collection. I remember visiting the motel room where Rippy and his family stayed for the three months while their house was being repaired. There was a spirit of thankfulness and joy in spite of their loss and their difficult circumstances. I know that for Rippy, the fire that summer caused him to re-examine what was important to him. Family and faith won out over personal possessions.
As Paul Harvey would say, “And that’s the rest of the story.”