Homily: October 4, 2015

Pentecost 19, YEAR B; Rev. Phil Boelter, Vicar Most high, almighty, good Lord,

grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world;

that, following the way of blessed Francis,

we may for love of you delight in all your whole creatures with perfect joy;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

St Francis is without doubt an unusual character-

the universal saint.

 

He is well loved by people of all religions and none,

And loved not so much as his relationship

With nature-

and animals in particular.

 

According to tradition,

Francis preached to the birds,

tamed the wild wolf of Gubbio,

And befriended the timid rabbit and skittish fish.

 

That is why this Blessing of the Animals

almost always takes place in early October

adjacent to his feast day.

 

But what is it about St Francis

that made his relationship with animals so very special?

 

St Francis understood his place in the world,

He took seriously his relationship with all God’s creatures.

 

Let’s go back to our first reading this morning.

 

In Genesis chapter two God has created Adam.

 

In this creation narrative,

Light and dark … God created them and said they were good.

The sun moon and star… all good.

The earth and sea. God created them and said they were good too.

 

We often think of the creation of humanity as the pinnacle of God’s creation.

But now

God created Adam

And immediately something’s wrong.

 

It is not good for Adam to be alone.

 

Adam’s place is not on top of the creation

As its subjugating, domineering head.

 

Adam’s true place

is among the creation….

In loving humble relationship with the creation.

 

We see this in how Adam names all the animals.

 

Today we take the opportunity

Once again to recognize our own place in God’s creation-

Among God’s creatures

And praise God.

 

It is no small thing

When I am sitting reading in my favorite chair

And Finn Shadow McKool the Wonder Dog

Comes and sets his big slobbery head on my lap,

Or lays down at my feet and looks up lovingly,

Inquiringly,

“Walk?”

 

In moments like these we know ourselves to be part of a larger reality-

We are pulled out of lonely ourselves,

like Adam,

into relationship with a larger and loving creation.

 

Like Francis of Assisi we understand this and communicate

this interconnectedness without necessarily saying a word.

 

Today we are also celebrating the good fortune of one of our members,

Jen Soltis.

 

It was not entirely coincidence,

I believe,

that this Sunday

We send her off to her new location

And new job

In the field of chemistry.

 

Jen understands that interrelatedness

Which Adam discovered

And Francis lived.

Every discovery which Jen makes

In her field of chemistry

With all its acronyms

And its chemical compounds

And its experimentation

Is actually building a bridge across the creation.

 

So when we send her off to

Pacific Northwest National Laboratories

this week

We are sending her out into that world

To do what Adam and Francis did-

to join us in living as a part of,

Not apart from the created world.

 

I wish St Francis had said

What I am about to share- but he didn’t.

 

He was a man of few words,

But great action.

 

However, a friend of Jen’s

Daniel Lightstream shared this quote from St Bernard of Clairvaux

On Face Book

And said it was true of Jen.

 

“There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is Curiosity.

 

There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is Vanity.

 

There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love.”

 

Jen Soltis, Francis and Adam in the garden exemplify

This true humility and service in the face of all this beautiful creation

In which we have been placed this day.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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