On a recent October Sunday, the Reverend Fran Gardner-Smith and people of St. Thomas Episcopal celebrated the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi with an outdoor service attended by about 50 people and 11 dogs! Following this service, Rev Gardner-Smith shared the following communication with her congregation:
“Francis is known for his love of all creatures and for creation. At our outdoor service, we heard this reading from one of Francis’ sermons entitled “Peace, birds, peace!”:
‘My brother and sister birds, you should greatly praise your Creator and love him always. He gave you feathers to wear, and wings to fly, and whatever you need. God made you noble among his creatures and gave you a home in the purity of the air, so that, though you do not sow nor reap, he nevertheless protects and governs you without your least care.’
At the service, our choir sang one of my favorite choral pieces, “For the Beauty of the Earth” arranged by the English composer John Rutter. You can hear youth from the Milwaukee Vocal Arts Academy singing it here.
I hope you can find a small way to honor St. Francis today. Take a walk outside. Admire some leaves that are beginning to turn color as we move into October. Snuggle with an animal who shares your home. Whatever your day holds, may you find beauty. “
On that same October Sunday, across town at Redeemer Lutheran, Pastor Sandy Kessinger delivered a sermon also reflecting on this beautiful time of the year and on Psalm 8 that is excerpted here:
“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?”
On this important topic Pastor Kessinger had this to say (summarized from her sermon, full text can be found here.):
“Who are we that God is so mindful of us? A better question is – Do we value ourselves as much as God values us? How quick we are to look at our faults and not see our gifts.
We need to look up at the heavens and the sky, the moon and the stars, the mountains, and the oceans, and place ourselves among the manifestation of God’s glory. God orders all things and gives us infinite value and worth in spite of ourselves.
Who are we? We are children of God, a little lower than the angels, and crowned with glory and honor. And in his infinite wisdom God also gave us partners so that we do not need to go it alone. May we live into what God intended for us when God created us in his image.”
As the trees begin to turn, I will reflect on Rev. Gardner-Smith and Pastor Kessinger’s messages. I will give thanks for the beauty of the earth, my sometimes silly and beloved animal companions, and the wonderful friends I have made through Tysons Interfaith – all members of the same human family, valued and partners in spiritual living.