Feast of St. Francis, Pentecost 19

Title:Feast of St. Francis, Pentecost 19

Feast of St. Francis, October 4 2015  (full size gallery)

October, 2015 is quickly distinquishing itself with a deluge of rain beginning on Oct. 1 and continuing through the weekend. It subsided on Sunday and thankfully was not cold. This week’s service was very different – instead of Pentecost 19 we did the Feast of St. Francis since Sunday was St. Francis’ day.   We invited all animals to the church service and they were blessed during Communion. To make it easier everything from scriptures to hymns were in the bulletin.

We had 38 in the service and 9 dogs. Without exception all the dogs were well mannered. Very impressive.  We also had our most recent baby in the congregation who will be baptized on All Saints, Nov. 1. 

After the service there was coffee hour with pizza, salad, fruit and three cakes. Cookie did a wonderful job on this and the flowers. The flowers were stunning and all came from her garden.  She quipped that she is putting the florists out of business!

The St. Francis theme was explored in "Weaving God’s Promises" with our one child reading stories about St. Francis preaching to the birds and the famous story of St. Francis and the wolf. 

John was the lector and here were the readings.  We also celebrated Roger’s birthday with a round of Happy birthday

The bulletin featured an altered lectionary with the Gospel reading from Matthew ("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") instead of the Gospel of Mark. Daily Prayer for all Seasons was the source for the affirmation (a replacement for the Nicene Creed and a different Prayers of the People). The Eucharist was a different setting. Finally the Prayer after Commmunion was from the New Zealand Prayer Book.  We do have a richness of sources for worship in the Episcopal Church!

The sermon concentrated on the essence of St. Francis:

"..if Francis were here today, he would probably talk about something besides his love for animals, or even his embrace of Lady Poverty, or his desire to suffer as Christ did, and he certainly wouldn’t talk about his humility or the fact that he received the marks of Christ’s crucifixion on his own hands, feet and side.

"Francis would talk about his passionate, seemingly insane, love for God—a love so powerful and filling that it left room for nothing else in this man’s life. I love the irony here—all Francis cared about was God, but that single-minded love then meant that he had that same passionate love and compassion for his brothers, his sisters and all of creation itself.

"The passion that Francis felt for God determined how Francis lived. His prayed not only in solitude, but also as he went about his work. He met God face to face in the Eucharist. He cultivated a humble sprit by being honest with himself about his very human flaws through self-examination and the seeking of God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of those he offended. He embraced poverty. He sought reconciliation with his fellow human beings and with all of creation

"That consuming love transformed his life into one of praise, thanksgiving and humble and loving service for his fellow human beings, especially the sick, the forgotten and the unwanted, and for all of God’s creation, and because we love tangible things that we can grasp, these specifics about his life are the things we remember.

Sermon concluded with a question for all – "How do you want to be remembered when you’re gone? What will you leave behind? How has God been made visible in your life?"

Lectionary commentary on Pentecost 19, Canon Lance Ousley, Diocese of Olympia, Washington

My father used to say, "Beware of fair weather friends. A real friend is with you through thick and thin." He really was teaching me about how to be a friend. The common thread of commitment and integrity runs through our readings this week. Stewardship is reflected in how we interact with humanity and all of creation with commitment and integrity to our relationship with God. Another lesson my father taught me was that the way we treat those things that belong to another speak volumes about how we esteem the owner of those things. Humanity and all of creation belong to God.

The gospel lesson from Mark speaks to commitment in the context of marriage and divorce, but it is reaching far past matrimonial relationships. This is illustrated in the verses that follow Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ test in his receiving little children into his midst elevating them from their "property" status. This was the same issue that Jesus was addressing in his response to the Pharisees’ test of him on the matter of divorce.

No human is property. To think so is an act of dehumanizing the other in a way that is hardness of heart. When we do not treat others with love we are in essence dehumanizing them, failing to recognize their created humanity fully. In this we also dehumanize ourselves, failing as humans to be the stewards of all creation we have been called to be.

The words of Psalm 8 also found in the passage from Hebrews set humanity in a unique position in all of creation, reflecting the theology in Genesis 2. This position is one of steward taking care of all that God has created with deep commitment and integrity with our relationship with God. This means that we should be concerned with the environment regardless of the debate around climate change or global warming. The earth and its natural resources have been entrusted to our care for us to share with the rest of humanity, those who come after us, and all of creation. This, also, is part of how we care for the rest of the animal kingdom with integrity and fulfill our call as stewards of God’s creation.

So how committed are you to God?

How are you a friend of God and all that God has made?

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