Preached yesterday, decided to go for the lectionary readings of Luke 3:1-6 & Malachi 3:1-4, I have to admit Malachi isnt a book I know well and this passage is one that offers some challenges, it start by foretelling of John T Bap but then goes on to talk about Jesus ministry, the second half of Verse 2 reading:-
For he is like a refiners fire and like fullers soap
This was the main focus I took in the end, I was a little nervous about doing so as to me this passage points out that it can be tough being a Christian and this is something that I think the church as a whole tries to avoid a little. Anyway I talked about the fact that sometimes things in life can be hard and can hurt and that if God is going to refine us like silver and clean us that can be a painful process, speaking of fullers soap being a Launders soap as used for cleaning the priestly robes, it would have almost had a bleaching effect to make the robes white, it was serious cleaning. I finished with a story about refining silver which I think gives us the key to this passage. When refining silver with fire (it is now more often done with acids) you have to watch it closely as if it is left for too long the silver will burn and be ruined. Although sometimes we struggle in our faith, we feel distant from God, he is always there watching us closely. But the real key comes in knowing when the silver is pure, the silver smith knows that it is pure because at that point he can see his own reflection in the silver.
Sometimes we all struggle with our faith, we feel that God has for some reason abandoned us, often when we look back at those times from a distance we can see that God was at work, and coming out of those times we perhaps reflected Gods image in our own lives a little better.
The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. 1996, c1989 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville