October 6, 2019

This is Our Father’s World
St Francis and Blessing of the Animals
Pentecost 19, Proper 24, Year C
Becky Robbins-Penniman

Today we are celebrating the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, who lived about 800 years ago. He changed the church, and the world, then. His message may be even more relevant now. Of course, he lived long, long before all our polarizing politics, so maybe we can hear what Francis teaches about creation without painting ourselves red, or blue, or into a corner.

St. Francis loved every bit of creation – not only plants and animals, but also bugs and fiery spheres in the sky; he would have hugged the sun and the moon if he could. Basically, he proclaimed that we don’t need to go looking for God. The presence and spirit of God is everywhere, in every molecule on earth. Each created entity, each flower that opens, each bird that sings, all purple-headed mountains and every river running by, is a manifestation of the divine will, an incarnation of holy presence. According to Francis, Creation is something we should care for as if we were taking care of God’s stuff for God’s sake.

St. Francis’ love of God’s Creation is in stark contrast with other religious folks who insist that Creation is fallen and rotten and doomed; according to them, Creation is something we want to get away from, so why spend any energy trying to preserve it? Did God give up on Creation when Adam and Eve ate the apple? Certainly not, according to the Bible: in all of our lessons from today, including the words of Jesus, we are assured that God created and cares for all creation even to this day – and into the future.

According to Isaiah, who spoke God’s word to God’s people 2,700 years ago – 1,500 years before St. Francis – the future of our planet that God promises is a time of wisdom and understanding, planning and strength, knowledge and devotion to God and God’s ways of justice. The poor and needy will have a fair shake, and violence will stop. Humans and animals will live in peace: wolves and lambs; leopards and goats; calves and lions; cows and bears; and little children will be safe around snakes. No one on God’s holy mountain will harm each other, and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, like the water covers the sea. Who else wants to live like that?

This is the perfection of creation that God intends for everything: people and animals, mountains and moons, and all the heavenly bodies. This was the vision and teaching that St. Francis not only taught, but lived.

What would it look like if we lived that way, too? What would it look like if we asked ourselves each day which was more important: our convenience or caring for God’s creation?

For the full sermon text, click HERE.

Live video stream for this outdoor service is not available.