Celebrating Sabbath

The Feast of Saint Francis was this week. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who didn’t like Francis. I mean, really, who doesn’t love him? (Well, I suppose war mongers and gnostics don’t. But I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anyone who openly self-identifies either way.)

The famous prayer of peace attributed to Francis is beautiful and powerful. I’m glad it is in song form in the United Methodist hymnal The Faith We Sing. We try to sing it in worship about as often as we can get away with.

Since he is a Franciscan friar, it is no surprise that this week’s meditations from Father Richard Rohr focused on brother Francis. As I am in the midst of a sermon series I call Redefining Liturgy, this reflection from Rohr seems especially appropriate:

This is the change of perspective that became our alternative orthodoxy—although it should have been mainline orthodoxy! He was merely following the movement of the Incarnation, since Christians believe that the Eternal Word became “flesh” (John 1:14), and it is in the material world that God and the holy are to be found.

Francis recognized and took to the logical conclusion the implications of the Incarnation. If God became flesh in Jesus, then it is in the world, the physical, the animal, in the natural elements, in human sexuality that God must be found. Speak of embodiment, physicality, and the world—use whatever words you want—these are the hiding places and the revelation places of God. This is how Christianity was supposed to change everything. Most of us just kept looking up, when God in Jesus had, in fact, come down. (This is the foundation of Franciscan mysticism.) On this day in 1226, Francis died at sunset and asked to lie naked and exposed on the earth as he died. The friars were embarrassed, but conceded to his wish. Now you know that it made total sense. […]

Peace be with us all.

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