Preached on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at Church of the Holy Trinity. Scripture readings this sermon was based on can be found here.
One of the many great, and ponderous questions we deal with often here at the Church of the Holy Trinity is how is it that we are supposed to live? What goes into living a good life, being a good Christian, how best can we follow Christ in what we do everyday, in all that we do?
Some of us find answers in Scripture, some find them in contemplation, some find their answers in service to others. And some of us find the answers to these questions closer to home. Some of us find the way to live in the lives we share with our pets.
Because it is most certainly true that if you want to live a good life, if you want to be the kind of person that Jesus would want you to be, what you must do is to try as best you can to be the person that your dog already thinks you are…
On this day we commemorate one of the great saints of the church, Francis of Assisi. Francis was renowned for many things. He was noted for his gentleness and his humility, and in his great regard for the beauty and bounty of God’s creation. But Francis was more than that. He was a rebel and a radical. He protested -- most vociferously -- the corruption of the church and the excesses of greed. He was known for wandering the city streets and through the countryside naked, preaching to any and all. Francis saw in the sufferings of the poor a reflection of the sufferings of Christ, and for him, the poor are the most beloved of God, and service to the poor is service to Christ himself.
Francis founded an order of monks and nuns devoted to these values -- kind of an early version of Occupy Assisi -- that survives to this day and continues Francis’s good works.
Few of Francis’s writings survive. One rare one is the Canticle of the Sun. It says,
Most High, Omnipotent, good Lord,
Let creatures all give thanks to thee,
And serve in great humility.
For those of us with pets, dogs and cats and birds and fish and ferrets, we know that they do, in fact, serve in great humility. Not the leastwise by teaching us -- with their steadfast love, and warmth and obedience and joy -- how to be the best humans we can be.
© The Rev. Mark R. Collins