Pentecost 17 and Feast of St Francis – 30 September – 7 October 2018

This week we celebrate Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). Francis was but a humble servant of God, trying to listen to what God asked of him and spreading the gospel of Christ in a loving and humble way. St Francis was the founder of a number of Franciscan Orders which later became the orders of Monks and Nuns we have today. Below are some thoughts attributed to Francis of Assisi.

Francis was on a military mission in Puglia, Italy, when it is said he heard the voice of God telling him to return to Assisi and restore the church. Francis misinterpreted this to mean the physical buildings which were in disrepair. Later, through more prayer and prompting by the Holy Spirit, Christ revealed to Francis that he wanted him to restore the Church within, not without.

At another time, Francis had a vision of a little black hen, whose feathers and feet were those of a dove. She had so many chicks that she couldn’t gather them all under her wings, and they ran all around her beyond her reach. Francis interpreted this to mean, the he himself, was like that hen, for he was short in stature and dark of colouring and he had so many followers, that he was unable to care for them. Francis believed that the Lord had given him too many children to be able to care for himself, therefore he said, he was to surrender them to the Mother Church who would protect them in the form of monastic orders, which is just what he did.”

Francis named his religious order the Friars Minor (Little Brothers) to express his desire that the brothers would always remain humble and never seek positions above others. He encountered many difficulties along the way as he tried to remain faithful to the inspiration that God had given him. Once St. Francis had a vivid dream in which Jesus appeared to him and said, “Poor little man, why are you so sad? Is not your order, my order? Is it not I who am its chief shepherd? Cease to be afflicted then, and take care rather of your own salvation.” The dream was a great consolation to Francis. Francis also believed that possessions were unnecessary, that possessions in turn would need weapons to defend them and that they would eventually become an obstacle to one’s search for the divine. Francis believed this and lived his belief.

Francis is also the patron saint of animals and is celebrated most often with liturgy and service to the animals who share our lives. He is considered the one who had and has, a direct connection through the created order, to the divine. We honour St Francis each year on October 4 or thereabouts, with a service of blessing for our own pets and animals who share our lives.

Have a great couple of weeks

Shalom (God’s deep abiding, indwelling love be with you)

Donna (Vicar of Wynnum)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost – 16th September 2018

Jesus asks: “Who am I?” And I’m asking, So what?

In 2018, who is Jesus for you? Maybe you’re thinking this is a bit of a nonsense question. But, humour me. Who is Jesus for you and what difference does that knowledge, relationship, experience make in your life today and beyond? For some of us, it is not blatantly obvious who Jesus is, or our concept can change, just like Peter’s did. Of course, we say, Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, the Son of God, an equal person in the Trinity, the one whom we pledge our faith through, in the Nicene creed every Sunday, but who and what else is he to us?

Scholars might argue, that Mark’s gospel answers the question of who Jesus is, by taking us back to the very heart of the gospel, to that critical moment when the truth of what God was doing in and through Jesus, comes into its sharpest focus. It clarifies once and for all, the answer to the question “Who is Jesus?”

Or does it?

My second question: So, What? is more evocative. What does this question actually ask of you, in your everyday life? Do you think perhaps, that its already all been worked out for you? Do you simply believe what you’ve been told? If we could personalise the question, as though someone was asking these questions of us, then what would the answer be? Who are you? And how is your life informed by who you believe Jesus is right now in your life?

One of the most satisfying areas of ministry for me is bereavement ministry; funerals. During the funeral service there is that reminder and reflection on the deceased life; the eulogy. This is usually offered by a family member, or someone so close as to be considered family. This reflection on a person’s life, often brings clarity, insight and knowledge to those listening. What’s really wonderful about this reflection time for me, is to hear about the loved one, from another’s perspective and experience. It is often a gift, to hear stories about someone whom we have known intimately, from another’s life focus. Even when we have known a person our whole life, we still don’t actually know them, the way another does; each relationship is unique to the people within that relationship. This is the gift and beauty of our relationship with God; its unique to us. Our story and God’s story are inextricable linked and connected, whether we see it or not.

So, I’ll pose my questions again; who is Jesus to you? and so what?

How does your knowledge or concept of who Jesus is for you in 2018 inform or enliven you? How has your story and Jesus’ story, intersected and so what? How has your life been influenced or guided by this relationship? How have you taken up your cross and followed the one, you would call Saviour, Lord? Or, how have you, like Peter, perhaps failed to understand? Is your heart set on human things rather than the divine? And what difference does it make? Big questions I know. But perhaps you might like to ponder these and others as you move from Sunday worship into the rest of the week.

So, Who is Jesus for you? and, what difference does he make?

Have a great week
Shalom (God’s deep abiding peace)