Pentecost 19, Year B, Season of Creation 5

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Advent 1, Year C 2021 November 28, 2021 Advent 1, Year C 2021 Psalm 25:1-9, I Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-36
Christ the King, Year B November 21, 2021 Christ the King, Year B John 18:33-37, Revelation 1:4b-8
Pentecost 25, Year B November 14, 2021 Pentecost 25, Proper 28, Year B, 2021 Daniel 12:1-3, Psalm 16, Mark 13:1-8
All Saints, Year B November 7, 2021 All Saints' Sunday Year B Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9, Psalm 24, Revelation 21:1-6a, John 11:32-44`
Pentecost 23, Year B October 31, 2021 Pentecost 23, Proper 26, Year B Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Mark 12:28-34
Pentecost 22, Year B October 24, 2021 Pentecost 22, Proper 25, Year B Mark 10: 46-52
Pentecost 21, Year B October 17, 2021 Pentecost 21, Proper 24, Year B 2021 Psalm 91:9-16
Pentecost 20, Year B October 10, 2021 Pentecost 20, Proper 23, Year B Amos 5:6-7.10-15. Psalm 90:12-17, Hebrews 4:12-16, Mark 10:17-31
Pentecost 19, Year B, Season of Creation 5 October 3, 2021 Feast of St Francis, Pentecost 19, Year B Jeremiah 22:13-16, Matthew 11:25-30
Pentecost 18, Year B, Season of Creation 4 September 26, 2021 Pentecost 18, Year B, Season of Creation 4 Numbers 11:4-6,10-16,24-29; Mark 9:38-50
Pentecost 17, Year B, Season of Creation 3 September 19, 2021 Pentecost 17, Proper 20, Year B, Season of Creation 3 Psalm 54, Mark 9:30-37
Pentecost 16, Year B, Season of Creation 2 September 12, 2021 Pentecost 16, Year B, Season of Creation II Mark 8:27-38
Pentecost 15, Year B, Season of Creation 1 September 5, 2021 Proper 18, Year B Season of Creation 2021 Isaiah 35:4-7a, Psalm 146, James 2:1-10, 14-17, Mark 7:24-37
Pentecost 13 B – Rev. Amy Turner August 22, 2021 Pentecost 13, Proper 16 John 6:56-69
Pentecost 12, Year B August 15, 2021 Proper 15, Pentecost 12, Year B John 6:51-58

 

Pentecost 19, Year B, Season of Creation 5

Sermon Date:October 3, 2021

Scripture: Jeremiah 22:13-16, Matthew 11:25-30

Liturgy Calendar: Feast of St Francis, Pentecost 19, Year B


Today we are celebrating the life of St Francis of Assisi, one of the church’s most well known and beloved saints.  He is famous for his compassion for the birds, wolves, and all of  God’s creatures.   St Francis knew that he was related to and interconnected with God’s entire creation.

In fact, in his Canticle to the Sun, according to Wikipedia, one of the earliest pieces of literature written in the Italian language, St Francis refers to the sun, the moon, the wind, the water, and the fire as brothers and sisters, and to the earth as mother. 

But what we often forget about St Francis was that he embraced a life devoted to Lady Poverty.  His great desire was to be counted among the least of God’s servants.  His short biography in Holy Women, Holy Men says that “despite his father’s intense opposition, Francis totally renounced all material values, and devoted himself to serve the poor.” 

As we celebrate the compassion St Francis had for all of creation, let’s also remember his compassion for his fellow human beings, which grew out of his “total identification with the poverty and suffering of Christ.”   

I really like the definition of compassion from Frederick Buechner, an American writer and theologian.   

“Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin.  It is the knowledge that there can never be any peace and joy for me until there is finally peace and joy for you too.” 

Out of compassion, we act to lighten the suffering of others and to increase their peace and joy. 

Today’s lectionary passages, appointed for the Feast of St Francis, remind us that God expects us to have compassion, to be full of steadfast love and mercy, and to be willing to suffer with others.

In the Old Testament passage, the prophet Jeremiah has a message from God to  King Jehoiakim, who has greatly displeased God.  The king is building a spacious house, paneling it with cedar, putting in windows for light and air, and painting it a brilliant red.  God’s problem is not with the house itself, but in HOW Jehoiakim is building it—he is making the builders work for nothing, and will not give them their wages.  Essentially, the people who are building this house are enslaved. 

Showy materialism, especially at the expense of others,  does not make a king.  The father of Jehoiakim, Josiah, was truly a king.  What made Josiah a king  in God’s eyes was the fact that Josiah judged the cause of the poor and the needy, and focused on  justice and righteousness.  And so, scripture tells us, it was well with Josiah.  His compassion for his subjects showed that Josiah knew the Lord. 

Jehoiakim and Josiah chose two completely different houses to live in.  Jehoiakim built a house for his own glory.  Josiah chose to live in the House of God’s Great Compassion. 

Richard Rohr, a Catholic theologian that I often quote,  says that we can define the Kingdom of God as the Great Compassion, that is, what I will call the House of Great Compassion in this sermon.   Rohr quotes Catholic author Judy Cannato who says that this Great Compassion was what Jesus wanted us to understand and to put to work in our own lives. 

She writes, “The realm of God that Jesus preached and died for was one that was known for its kindness and generosity, its compassion and healing. There was no one deemed outside the love of the Holy One whom Jesus called “Father.” No one was excluded from fellowship, not the rich or poor, male or female, slave or free. Jesus went beyond superficial divisions and called for a culture of compassion.”

In other words, Jesus invites us all to dwell in God’s House of Great Compassion. 

Cannato goes on to say that “Compassion changes everything. Compassion heals. Compassion mends the broken and restores what has been lost. Compassion draws together those who have been estranged or never even dreamed they were connected. Compassion pulls us out of ourselves and into the heart of another, placing us on holy ground where we instinctively take off our shoes and walk in reverence.”

St Francis opened his heart to the suffering and poverty of Jesus.  Francis knew the compassion of Jesus, whose healing love poured out into all creation and flowed through eternity as Jesus died on the cross, restoring and reconnecting all of creation.    Francis knew this suffering compassion so intimately that according to Holy Women, Holy Men, Francis received, not long before his death, “the Lord’s wounds, the stigmata, in his own hands and feet and side.” 

Francis had completely accepted the invitation of Jesus to join him in the Reign of God’s Great Compassion, to live in God’s House of Great Compassion, that invitation that Jesus offers to all of us in today’s gospel.  “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Those of us who pray Compline each week frequently hear this passage, which is one of the scriptures appointed for that service.)

The invitation that Jesus extends is full of God’s own hesed—God’s steadfast everlasting love for us and for all that God has created.  Jesus says that if we take up his way of Great Compassion, Jesus will not only be with us, but will be yoked to us as we do God’s works of compassion in this world. 

Jesus invites us to take off the yokes that burden us.  The yoke of resignation is especially insidious–accepting things as they are, being resigned to the brokenness in our world, ignoring problems like the continuing degradation of the natural world because of human greed, ignoring racism, ignoring gun violence, ignoring the ongoing problems presented to us all by our broken immigration system, the huge problems created by our political divisions that cause all of us to suffer, and a host of other things that you could add to this short list of ills that we have become resigned to and that we tend to accept as just part of our lives. 

The yokes of resignation that we wear seem light at first, as we choose to ignore the problems that are affecting all of us.  But these yokes end up becoming yokes so heavy to carry that we long to be rid of them as we realize the toll that the problems we’ve ignored are taking, not only on us, but on others as well.   

How gracious it is of Jesus to invite us to put down these yokes and take up his yoke instead, and to come  live with him in the House of the Great Compassion.  

But to choose to be compassionate is frightening, because now we are thinking of trying to deal with problems that seem intractable by working for the peace and joy for all of creation, work that sounds daunting and exhausting.    We can see God is standing in the doorway of the House of Great Compassion and inviting us to come in, but to accept just seems too hard. 

The good news is that Jesus promises to help us accept God’s invitation to enter.  Jesus promises to be yoked to us as we try to live with compassion, giving us divine energy as we do the works of compassion that God gives us to do.  AND, Jesus will teach us. “Learn from me,” Jesus says. 

The best way to learn from Jesus is model our lives after his—to be gentle and humble of heart, two of the components of being people of compassion.

Along with St Francis, may we resolve to accept the invitation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and lay down our heavy burdens, find the courage to take up his yoke and enter the House of Great Compassion, God’s reign come on this earth. 

And in that House of Great Compassion, we can add our voices to the voices of all creation, praising God with joyous faith. 

St Francis invites us all to join him in praising and serving God in the opening words of his Canticle of the Sun. 

Most High, Omnipotent, good Lord,

To thee be ceaseless praise outpoured,

And blessing without measure,

Let creatures all give thanks to thee

And serve in great humility. 

And as  we give thanks  to God and serve with humility, yoked with Jesus in the work God gives us to do, we will find rest for our souls, for in the  House of God’s Great Compassion, our yoke will be easy, and our burdens light.    


Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canticle_of_the_Sun

 

Holy Women, Holy Men

 

https://cac.org/compassion-as-steadfast-love-2021-09-27/?utm_source=cm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dm&utm_content=summary

 

https://cac.org/smelling-like-the-sheep-2021-09-28/?utm_source=cm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dm&utm_content=summary