Our household object for today is the fireplace and our Bible passage is Genesis 18:27-33.

When I was a child visiting my grandparents’ house, the open fire in the living room was both cosy and inviting. Fire produces both heat and light, but as it burns, it produces smoke and ash; it consumes everything, turning it into grey powder. As an adult, I discovered making fires was not as easy as it had looked as a child, and that fire had both advantages and disadvantages.

Abraham, in the passage for today, recognised his lowliness (‘I who am but dust and ashes.’) We recognise our lowliness and mortality when in the Ash Wednesday service and funeral services we say ‘remember that you are but dust and to dust you shall return.’) Far from being morbid, such honesty is necessary if we are to grow spiritually. Humility and repentance are at the heart of our faith journey; when we approach God in this way, acknowledging the purifying effect of His fire, we will also know the warmth of His love and mercy.