A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin and sermon.

Gathering

PRELUDE

CONGREGATIONAL WELCOME

Thanksgiving for Baptism

Gathering Song           “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty”          red book # 533

GREETING

KYRIE                                                                                   red book page 98 (set 1)

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

JEREMIAH 22:13-16

PSALM 27

GALATIANS 6:14-18

MATTHEW 11:25-30

SERMON                                                                                  Pastor Chris Halverson

Francis of Assisi

 

 

Here we are, humans with our critters or in the case of the ornery ones, pictures of our critters.

Kinda fun!

But why are we doing it? Why are we blessing animals on Francis’ feast day?

…Why are we blessing animals at all?

Legends of course talk about Francis preaching the Gospel to birds. He also negotiated a peace treaty between a village and a big bad wolf.

This is why Francis is connected with animals and we bless them around October 5th

… but, I would suggest that there is a little more to Francis

and a little more to blessing Animals than simply big bad wolves and birds who listen.

Prayer

 

Francis is a fascinating fellow.

He was born rich,

went off to war, where he saw his friends die,

was captured and imprisoned for a time,

and came out of all that deeply disturbed.

And in this state, shell shocked by the roughness of this world,

he took a bible, opened it up, and read several simple commands of Christ,

“Sell all you have”

“Give to the poor”

“deny yourself.”

And here is where things get crazy, he did it!

 

Paul might describe this as carrying the marks of Jesus on his body.

Matthew might describe what Francis did as taking up Christ’s yoke.

Whatever you want to call it—this action changed Francis’ life, and changed the world.

He was able to find God in the face of lepers who he served, find God living a life at its essential nub—Labor, Prayer, and Sacraments.

His life inspired his friends, and created a movement calling people to a life of discipleship, following after Christ in a new and strange world.

This movement challenged the political games the church of the time was playing, and the ways it had wedded itself to power and riches and might. Some go so far as to say the church of the 12th century was re-built on the back of this simple man from Assisi.

 

And I think Francis’ example can inspire us too.

It can remind us that we are called to be little Christs to our neighbors.

Remind us to carry the marks of Christ, and remind us that we carry the yoke of Christ… that it is easy and light, not because it is effortless or uncomplicated or painless, but instead because it is life giving.

You get what I’m saying, right?

Living in such a way that you become more in tune with the teachings, and style of life, of Jesus

—kissing lepers or facing Popes or flipping your whole life around and accepting a life of self-denial, as Francis did

—This was not a walk in the park, but it was good.

 

And this radical humility, living life at its most basic level, can bring us face to face with God.

It can help us to see Jesus among the least of these,

but also

also! to capture a sense of grace in creation

—base grace…

the basic joy of being.

God has created all that is seen and unseen, and we’re part of that… WOW!

 

And that right there is one of the reasons we bless animals. A blessing is a call to a vocation

—we bless teachers, that they might more fully live into teaching,

we bless architects and carpenters and construction workers that they might more fully live into their creative life…

And so too, we bless critters that they might more fully be part of the goodness of being.

The goodness that a human might find by selling all you have, giving to the poor, and denying yourself.

The goodness of living on the nub of life.

A goodness I can only imagine the puppies and kitties and bees (right Randy) and all those creature, know better than most of us do.

Yes, we bless animals so that they might more fully be what they are

—created good,

nestled against the pulse of that goodness that runs through the world.

Profoundly aware of that first grace bestowed upon us all.

HYMN of the DAY                “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”               red book # 836

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING FOR DECEASED PETS

PET BLESSING

APOSTLES CREED

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

OFFERING

OFFERTORY ANTHEM                 “My Tribute”

GREAT THANKSGIVING

A MOMENT OF THANKFUL REFLECTION

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS                           “Lamb of God”

           Also, “Let There Be Peace on Earth”, red book # 607, red book # 810

 Sending

BLESSING

ANNOUNCEMENTS

SENDING SONG                “On Our Way Rejoicing”               red book # 537

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE                   “Hymn Improvisation”                  by Tom Baker

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