“St. Francis walked the world like the Pardon of God.” G.K. Chesterton
It’s October – my favorite month of the year! Not only is it the most beautiful month (in my humble opinion), but October is my birthday and our wedding anniversary. I celebrate the arrival of October every year. Another October day that I’ve celebrated in recent years is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. If it seems strange for a Methodist to celebrate a saint, keep reading…
The Anglicans celebrated feast and fast days for the Saints. John Wesley was an Anglican priest, but he thought that only one day for the saints – All Saints’ Day – was necessary. The Methodist movement retained the celebration of All Saints’ Day on November 1st (or on the Sunday closest to November 1). On this day, we commemorate all of the saints – those who have died over the past year, loved ones who have blessed us with their teachings of faith, and saints who have inspired us to bravery and holiness. The Feast Day for St. Francis is October 4 every year. Many congregations mark the day with a Blessing of the Animals or a celebration of nature in honor of St. Francis’ love of God’s creation. With Francis’ love of nature and the beauty of the autumn, celebrating St. Francis outdoors with God’s creatures is appropriate and festive this month.
While it’s my love of animals that initially drew me to St. Francis – there are fabulous stories of him preaching to birds and taming wild wolves – his love of people and solidarity with the poor are also legendary. Francis gave up wealth, privilege, and power to follow Christ’s call on his life. Francis was passionate about God, and he loved God to the fullest. He was joyful in his celebration of God’s love and creation. Here’s an example of Francis’ exuberance for creation: Late one night while walking, Francis noticed a beautiful moon in a clear night sky. He was so moved and excited by the sight of the moon that he climbed to the top of the local church tower and rang the bells repeatedly in the middle of the night shouting: “Lift up your eyes, my friends! Look at the moon!” Every day and night is a gift from God.
We’ll be using St. Francis’ prayer from The United Methodist Hymnal in our Holy Communion service on Tuesday this week (October 2), and hearing a story about St. Francis’ life. I encourage you to explore the impact of the saints of the church as examples of faith for your own life in the lead up to All Saints Day. Here are a couple of wonderful resources about St. Francis to consider this October:
The Lessons of St. Francis: How to Bring Simplicity and Spirituality Into Your Daily Life by John Michael Talbot with Steve Rabey
The United Methodist Hymnal – “Prayer of St. Francis” #481, “All Creatures of Our God and King” #62
Discipleship Ministries from The United Methodist Church:
Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Margaret Mayo (a children’s book)
Francis: The Poor Man of Assisi by Tomie dePaola (a children’s book)
This month, celebrate St. Francis: Get out into the autumn air with a hike or play a game of fetch with a furry friend. St. Francis would have like that. Creation is God’s beautiful gift to us.
Have a blessed autumn, brothers and sisters in Christ,