by the Rev. Charlie Dupree
Next week, on October 4, the church celebrates the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
Francis is considered to be the patron saint of animals. He is also considered to be the saint most associated with an appreciation of creation. Many of his writings extol the magnificence of sun, rain, fire, earth. The story goes that Francis considered the animals to be co-creators with humans as we toil together upon the earth, bringing in the harvest. They, therefore, deserve our respect.
Francis is most extolled for his humility. In his day, the church, in his opinion, had lost itself. The church and its leaders were taken with power and opulence. Francis founded his religious community as a way of reclaiming the teachings of Jesus – the one who extolled the virtues of service and humility.
There are a few opportunities ahead that might help you to plug in to some “Francis vibes.” The first is a Blessing of the Animals service on Sunday at 4pm. The service will be very family-friendly and you’re invited to bring your pet(s) for a special blessing.
The second is the Annual Giving Campaign at St. Paul’s. Each year, the St. Paul’s community is invited to consider making a financial pledge to support our ministries of worship, service, care, justice, and formation. As St. Francis gave away all that he had to be completely devoted to Jesus, so we are asked to consider all that we have been given, and give a portion to the church so that it may be used to bring the Kingdom of Heaven nearer.
Francis considered himself a steward – a caretaker – of the many blessings and creatures that surrounded him. His witness calls each of us to be awake to and aware of the beauty and care that surrounds us, and to the call that each of us has to embody a Christ-like spirit of humility, connection, and love.
Over the next several weeks, you’ll hear more about the campaign. Weekly Chapel will be a space in which you can learn more, and hear how others are responding to the call to be stewards.
Finally, here is the prayer attributed to St. Francis, which has been the basis for our Prayers of the People on Sunday mornings.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
See you in church,