Sermon: The Instruments of Peace

Feast of Francis of Assisi
1 Oct 2017

So it turns out that Francis of Assisi didn’t actually write the “Prayer of Saint Francis.”

The prayer that begins, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…” did not appear anywhere until shortly before World War I. At one point it was circulated on a prayer card with St. Francis on the front of it, and so it quickly grew to be associated with the saint. There’s a saying very similar to this prayer, collected from one of Francis’s close companions, Giles of Assisi:

Blessed is he who loves and does not therefore desire to be loved;
Blessed is he who fears and does not therefore desire to be feared;
Blessed is he who serves and does not therefore desire to be served;
Blessed is he who behaves well toward others and does not desire that others behave well toward him;
And because these are great things, the foolish do not rise to them.

(I checked Twitter to see if that would fit in 140 characters…alas, it doesn’t. But if you happen to be one of those whom Twitter has given the new experimental double-character limit, you’re in luck. It’s 233 characters and you can even fit in the author’s name. I’m just saying, if you happen to have this privilege, here’s an opportunity to use it for good.)

(As our Presiding Bishop likes to say, Oh, I’m gonna get in trouble now.) Continue reading “Sermon: The Instruments of Peace”

Sermon: The Quarry of Love

The Quarry of Love

27 August 2017

Proper 16, Year A, RCL

Not far from where I live is the Thomas Hart Benton house, which is now a curated state monument, his studio preserved exactly as he left it so that people may observe the last snapshot of a great artist at work. But although the neighborhood is full of signs pointing to the location, it’s hard to pick the house out from its surroundings, because its natural state is so similar to the nature of many other houses around it. “Built of native limestone,” the tour blurbs say, which, when you look at other houses in the neighborhood, seems like ironic understatement: you wonder if there’s any native material but limestone in Kansas City. Some houses are made of stones so undressed that they look as if they had been dug straight out of the ground and plastered into place; some even have retaining walls in front with stones studded along the top like crenellations. “Welp, we’ve got all these rocks, might as well make a front gate out of ‘em too,” you can imagine the masons saying.

These houses look sturdier than their brick neighbors, like extensions of the earth on which the whole city is planted; as if nothing could shake them. They look immovable, cemented permanently into place. Continue reading “Sermon: The Quarry of Love”

Sermon: Save the People

Save the People

20 August 2017

Proper 15, Year A, RCL

There’s a scene that opens the movie version of Godspell that, the first time I saw it, smacked me with a shock of longing. It’s New York City in the early 1970s. The sun is beating down on the streets, winking off the surfaces of moving vehicles, lying like a visible pelt on the deep crowds of pedestrians as they walk to the daily round of their destinations. It’s business as usual. Continue reading “Sermon: Save the People”