Totally Fire. .. Why Not? -- By: Jerry R. Flora

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 26:0 (NA 1994)
Article: Totally Fire. .. Why Not?
Author: Jerry R. Flora


Totally Fire. .. Why Not?

Jerry R. Flora

Dr. Flora is Professor of New Testament Theology at Ashland Theological Seminary.

One Person: TheReality

Her name was Alberta, and I called her my mystic. At ninety years of age she was attractive, bright, and vital. She spoke to the audience gathered from many miles to hear her for what would likely be the last time. When she had settled into the chair provided for her and gotten acquainted with the microphone, she began to talk in her still-rich, mellow voice.

She declared the ancient Christian truth that God is love and where love is, there God dwells. She spoke of life, reality, and mystery. She hinted at eternity, infinity, and mystery. She knew Christ, his Spirit, and Mystery. She had walked so far into the light that we knew none of us there could catch her. As she spoke it was with the authority and conviction of one who has peered into another world.

The Bible, the hymnal, the saints, the sacraments—they were her friends. In her home was a room dedicated to her work of prayer, filled with aids to prayer and mementos of teachers, colleagues, and pupils in prayer. Glenn Clark, Gerald Heard, E.

Stanley Jones, Albert E. Day, Frank Laubach—she knew them, studied under them, or worked alongside them.

She was in love with Jesus Christ, filled with his Spirit, burning with the mystery that is God. She had served, suffered, and sung, and laughter or an open smile often lighted her face. She was on fire, quietly blazing with the light of eternal day.

When her talk concluded and the audience began to disperse, she asked for two women—both seminarians—to be brought to her. She had never met them, but something in their attention drew her to them. Quietly, unobtrusively she laid her hands on them, blessed them, and sent them away filled with awe.

I am writing this a year after her death, which occurred a few days before her ninety-second birthday. Those who knew her speak quietly of the wonder that was this woman. She was consumed with the reality that is God, the mysterium tremendum et fascinans. She was totally fire.

Alberta was one model of a Christian who has been spiritually formed. In the ten or twelve years that I knew her we saw each other only six or eight times. We corresponded fitfully and conversed by telephone on rare occasions. But the note of authenticity in her was unmistakable; the reality of God in her was undeniable. She was an athlete of the spirit, and I am a different,

better Christian for knowing her.

What ...

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