“All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” That word is the good news that was announced to you. First Peter 1:24,25 (NRSV)
About a week ago, I had a dream, which is nothing new. I dream a lot and tend to remember a lot of what I dream about. This particular dream was about an anvil.
I don’t put a lot of stock in dreams, I don’t think they are always prophetic and, even though God often communicated, and perhaps still does communicate, with people through dreams, I don’t think every dream carries some special message from God. I tend to believe that dreams are mostly influenced by events or experiences of the recent past, and sometimes make no sense at all. That being said, my recent dream wasn’t about just any anvil, it was about a small anvil that sits on my workbench in my garage/gym, an anvil that I see almost every day.
What impressed me most about my dream was that, sometime during or shortly after the dream ended, I had the distinct thought that “the anvil is a symbol of strength.” Realizing that that strength can be both physical and spiritual, I began to do a little in-depth research (surfing the web!) I found a surprising number of instances of others also seeing the anvil as symbolic of Christian faith. One example is a poem attributed to John Clifford:
The Anvil of God’s Word
“Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith’s door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
“‘How many anvils have you had,’ said I,
‘To wear and batter all these hammers so?’
‘Just one,’ said he, and then with twinkling eye,
‘The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.’
“And so, I thought, the Anvil of God’s Word
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The Anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone.”
One of the most interesting examples of the cross as a symbol of faith is the symbol of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Besides having historical meaning for the AME church, the website of Greater St. Paul AME Church in Morgantown W VA states, “And, as any blacksmith will tell you, hammers may wear down, and many a man may lose his life to the exhaustion from the hard work of being a blacksmith, but the Anvil never fails. A [person] only needs to purchase one in his or her entire lifetime, and it continues to last through MANY lifetimes. So it is with God; He cannot be beaten down and He is Eternal. The Anvil represents our beginning and the lasting Strength of our Lord and Savior that never ceases.”
In the verse that opens this message, Peter paints a similar image by saying that “the word of the Lord endures forever.” That is an important promise for us to remember in days when a pandemic interrupts the important events of our lives, including worship and fellowship in the church. It is important for us to remember when war is threatened in faraway places that is sure to impact us in some way. It is important for us to remember when illness, financial setbacks, broken relationships, or any other hardship or suffering comes our way. That word is the good news that was announced to you.
God’s word brings us the message of salvation by grace through faith, it assures of the commitment of Jesus Christ in going to the cross on our behalf, it tells us of the gift of the Holy Spirit, sent by God to call us to faith and guide and strengthen us in living as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Maybe my dream of that small anvil that sits on my workbench was, in some way, a message from God after all. Regardless, it helps me, and I hope it helps others, to remember that, “though the noise of falling blows [is] heard, The Anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone.”
Your partner in ministry and mission,
Pr. Jim Person