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Oct. 4th Commemoration of Saint Francis of Assisi

Oct. 4th Commemoration of Saint Francis of Assisi

st-francis-of-assisi-1
St Francis

St. Francis of Assisi is a popular Saint. He commonly was known as the patron saint of animals and the founder of the Franciscan Order of monks. I would like to offer a broader scope to his witness for Christ that we might learn from his example. St. Francis was born in 1181 in Italy. He was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant. He was known for wild living and his love of French culture. The name Francis comes from his nickname Francesco or “little Frenchman” in Italian. He spent time as a soldier and was even imprisoned. On a pilgrimage to Rome, he becomes so concerned with the plight of the poor that he took a vow of poverty. It was during this time that he become known for his love of animals, simplistic lifestyle and advocacy for the poor. He founded the Franciscan Order of monks as a result of many people who began to follow his example of poverty and service in Christ’s name. Later, legend says during the crusades he risked his own life to preach the Gospel to the Muslims. He even appeared before a Muslim ruler who although not converted respected Francis and offered him safe passage. 1 Later in life Francis received the stigmata or the wounds of Christ. Many saw this as God declaring Francis holy and being literally transformed into the image of Christ. He died in 1226.

Saint Francis is an example of living a life foolishly for Christ. He lived in poverty, service, and was unafraid to preach the Gospel through word and deed. He is a true example of what it means to be transformed into Christ’s Image. We commemorate Saint Francis on October 4th.

The following prayer is often attributed to Saint Francis,

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

A Sermon on Reaching out to Thomas

A Sermon on Reaching out to Thomas

Florence Verrocchio's Doubting Thomas
Ed Petrick
Florence Verrocchio’s Doubting Thomas

Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed! Amen!

We’ve all heard or seen things that we didn’t quite believe. The call of a loved one’s unexpected death, hearing that your mother has breast cancer, seeing the aftermath of the plane hitting a building where people you know work. The day I heard my grandfather died, the day my mother told me she had cancer and the day in 2011 seeing the aftermath of the plane hitting the Pentagon, the events were very vivid for me. My initial response to all these events was shock and disbelief. I wanted to hide and escape from their reality. There were moments when nothing could break through the fear and doubt.

The disciples in the upper room where no different. They had witnessed Jesus die. The had seen Christ crucified and buried. And now they were overcome with grief. They had heard the story of the empty tomb, of Mary Magdalene, Peter and the other disciple seeing the risen Christ. But for the disciples in that room fear and grief prevented them from believing. Which is understandable, when you see somebody die you don’t expect them to just be resurrected as if nothing happened, Do you? They had locked themselves in that upper room not just physically but also emotionally and spiritually. At that point, the disciples were more concerned about themselves than whatever else might be happening. They were grieving for their beloved teacher. They were fearful of what others might think, what might happen to them. They could be mocked, beaten or killed.

In the midst of this fear and grief, Jesus enters among them. Despite locked doors, He enters and shows them his hands and his side. They see Jesus their beloved teacher, who had died, Alive with them! What Joyous news! Jesus enters that room and says “Peace be with you.”

Peace in Hebrew is Shalom. However, it means more than the stereotypical end of violence, hippy peace. The kind we often casually say I hope for Peace on Earth. It means more, It means reconciliation, restoration, and completeness. Christ’s peace for me came in the witness of my mother. The shock of hearing the word Cancer from my mother was frightening. You expect the worst when you hear that word, Cancer. Despite my shock, my mother was calm. How could she be so calm? It was Cancer, that thing other people got not my own mother. It was puzzling to me. I asked if she was afraid and she responded, “Of course I’m afraid, but Christ is with me.” There in the midst of her pain and fear she was able to see Christ’s presence. To experience Shalom. Hearing her witness I began to see Christ’s presence as well. I began to believe.

Fear and Doubt are real. You may feel like you can’t have faith if they are present but Jesus enters despite our fears and doubts. Jesus comes past the barriers, the locked doors, and the tough questions. Out of fear and doubt, Jesus gives us a faith that becomes even more real.

Jesus offers his peace and he also gives us a task to share that peace with others. Breathing on the disciples, Jesus offers his presence through the Holy Spirit. Jesus then gives his disciples a command. “As the father sent me, I send you” He sends the disciples and us with his peace and his presence to others, for the forgiveness of sins. He says, “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Jesus desires that his peace be made complete. He offers forgiveness that makes us complete with God but also with others. He offers himself.

The disciples were so excited. Jesus was alive after all, The one who was crucified and buried had conquered death and was with them. The first person they tell is Thomas. Thomas, the disciple who was missing. The friend that was missing. In this excitement Thomas responds to the news that Jesus is alive with “unless I touch and see the holes in his hand and his side I will not believe.” Why couldn’t he just believe? We all know someone like Thomas. The person who questions what people say and is a skeptic. The person who doesn’t quite know what to do with all this religious stuff. They are all around us. It is the homeless person who walks by the church but doesn’t enter, It is the friend that doesn’t understand the whole church thing, it maybe, even yourself. Despite Thomas’ doubts, his unbelief and his conditions for belief, the disciples welcome him among them. That next week, they are in the upper room and Jesus enters again. Jesus again says “Peace be with you” Before Thomas can ask anything. Jesus offers for Thomas to touch and see. Jesus is the only one who can offer Thomas what he needs. The other disciples can’t. Thomas sees Jesus and believes saying “My Lord, My God.” The one who doubted believes when he encounters the risen Christ. In the midst of doubt and unbelief, Jesus comes and offers Thomas the Gift of Faith. In midst of questions, Jesus offers answers. In Thomas’ unbelief, Jesus offers him what he needs so that he can be a witness with those other disciples. When I first talked to my mother about her cancer, I couldn’t help but have some doubts. I couldn’t help but wonder what might happen. Faith could only get you so far I thought. But her perseverance proved otherwise. My mother’s faith was a gift in the midst of my own doubts and fears. It got me through doubt as my mother went through treatment. It drew me closer to God and to my mother. Through her witness, I became a witness to the risen Christ.

The gift of faith Jesus offers is meant to be shared. It was through my Mother’s witness I saw Christ. Christ sends us to welcome the Thomases in our lives, to the bring them to witness the risen Jesus. Christ asks us to include those around us. Those Thomases in our lives. Christ encourages us to live beyond our fears and doubts to include others, those right outside our comfort zones, so they might witness and believe in Christ. We can include them in a hope that Jesus will show up. We can give them a place to ask questions and to share our experience of Christ with one another so that all may believe and have new Life in Christ. We can’t make Christ appear like a magic trick, but we can believe Christ will show up. We can come to together in this place to share Christ’s promises, to remember his Life, Death and Resurrection in our own lives through Baptism, to share his presence at the table in bread and wine and through worship. Christ is here among us. Let us open our doors and our hearts like the stone is rolled away from the tomb so that those who want to see the risen lord may see him.

Easter and Our Calling

Easter and Our Calling

Disciples fishing
renzo dionigi
Disciples fishing

Reflecting on Easter, it must have been hard for the disciples to transition from the whole Crucifixion and Resurrection. I mean look at how there were locked up in the room and Jesus revealed himself to them.(John 20) But I don’t think the Disciples quite got it until Jesus met them on the beach and again invited them to ministry. (John 21)

I think what gives me hope is that during times of transition that Jesus comes and re-invites us to Kingdom work, that new call, (yet familiar if you look at him calling the disciples from their jobs as fishermen. Luke 5) the call from the Resurrected Jesus is one that is eternal a call for a new life.

Read the stories in the bible. What do you think?

To Romania and Back in 48hours:Epic Fail

To Romania and Back in 48hours:Epic Fail

My trip to Romania came and went in 48 hours.I went with from friends Rachel and Eric. The trip there was ok until we went to rent the car. We had problems. Basically the car failed to work and we had to pay for a new clutch. BOO!!! Basically all our plans were shot and it was Easter, which meant that our options were limited for alternatives so, we decided to head back home. We walked a lot. We didn’t have the time to take pictures because we trying to make arrangements to get back to Tisovec.

So I Present to you Travel Poetry Challenge. One of the few things good that came out of the trip. We had lots of time to kill on the train. Each poem is based on a challenge and written during our long travels on the train.

A Haiku By Eric

This haiku sucks balls
Big, huge hairy sweaty balls
It’s quite natural

Baseball Limerick By Mark

Mark McQwire
Went for a driver
He was home run king
But Bonds got a sting
With the drugs he did acquire

Acrostic by Rachel

We are the best, the
Happiest, the most
Inspired, the
Tisovec superlatives – and we
Never would have
Even known it without
You

Haikus about Goats and Sheep
Goats By Rachel

They have square pupils
Little tufty, beards and horns
Devils in disguise

Sheep By Mark

Bah they always say
Wool and cheese and stupid too
Wandering on hills

Thoughts on Red Headed people in General by Eric

Gingers have red hair and so no soul
Thus they want to eat your brains

A rhyming poem about “The Highlander” By Mark

He is Duncan McCloud of the clan McCloud
He likes to scream aloud
When he’s going to chop off a head
Just before bed
Immortal is he
So he can’t flee
From the death that is abounding

4 lines
2 lines about someone you like and 2 about someone you don’t like
By Rachel

What’s not to like about you?
You’re so smug, supercilious , I can’t stand it
You turned down the chance to prove me right
I hope you never get the chance to prove me wrong

An ode to favorite food at the school Bufet By Mark

Oh Hot Dog s horcicou how I love thee
My mouth water when you are with me.

3 lines 3 moments in History by Eric

A friends betrayal, a bloody knife, the beginning of strife leading to a fall.
Two bombs are dropped, a war is stopped, but he world changes forever
A fall day, two towers sway, American Cry and many ask why

Poem about Muppets by Mark

Animal, Boober, Camilla*, Deeter, Ernie, Fozzie, Gonzo, Harold*, Inchworm, Junior, Kermit, Lenny, Miss Piggy, Nigel, Oscar, Pops*, Quongo*, Rolf, Snuffleufagus, Tarantula*, Uncle Deadly*, Whaddaya Say Bird* , The Letter X*, Yorick*, Zeke
*Internet help after the fact

Quote from Kids TV show by Rachel

“It’s so simple, even Ed can do it”
“cause I’m Simple” -Ed, Edd and Eddy

Poem with starting line from a song by Eric

Sheep go Heaven, Goats go to Hell
Scotland is neat because of sheep
Central Europe where they pile their trash in heaps
Budapest Sucks, Tisovec is swell.

Thoughts on Public Transit by Eric

Public Transportation slow and often stinky
But without it I quess we couldn’t travel so far and wide-sky

Random Anecdote from the last few hours by Rachel

Smugglers always keep their shoes on
Our sock-clad feet prove us guileless

Happy New Year 2010

Happy New Year 2010

So Happy New year. I’m excited about 2010. Ok, Resolution #1 update my Blog more often. I’m horrible about it. This post is gonna be a little short but I wanted to have something up.

American Smile

so I’m super sorry for not posting anything in Like forever. Hopefully within the next week or so I’ll post a whole lot to at least get everyone up to date on what I’ve been doing. It has been quite a lot. I might post my Resolutions and other things.

For now I’ll post the links to some of my most recent pic uploads enjoy.

Taize 2009-2010 – I traveled to the City of Poznan, Poland for the Taize European Gathering over New Years. I stayed with a host family and took part in 5 days of international fellowship, prayer and reflection.

Poznan Sightseeing – I got a personalized tour of Poznan from my host brother after all the Taize activities had finished.

Zabijacka – so earlier this winter I took part in a pig killing and got to kill and cut a pig and then make pork sausage. Awesome!!!