September 28, 2020
How firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in Christ Jesus, the Word!
What more can he say than to you he has said
who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #796]
The readings for Sunday, October 4, 2020, the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
This coming Sunday, in addition to being the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, is also the day the Church commemorates St. Francis of Assisi. The blessing of animals has become quite common in church services on a day closest to the festival day, although I wonder how many congregations will be celebrating it in light of the pandemic in which we find ourselves.
But more than the blessings of the animals, a commemoration of St. Francis should remind us that we are to live in harmony with creation.
In recent weeks, the state of California has been fighting what seems to be a losing battle against devastating wildfires.
According to an August, 2020, article by writer Jennifer Leman in Popular Mechanics, there is no question that climate change has played a significant role in shaping the number and intensity of these fires. In recent years, California's climate has gotten hotter. Drier conditions mean less snowpack in the Sierras, less runoff in the spring, and less moisture for vegetation. These conditions have made it especially easy for massive wildland fires to ignite and quickly burn through parched vegetation.
Leman goes on to say that in our increasingly warming world, ecosystems will continue to dry out, and subsequently, fires will only get more fierce, more frequent, and burn more of the state.
In October, 2016, Sr. Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun from Erie, Pennsylvania, wrote an article for the National Catholic Reporter, titled, "We Need St. Francis Now." She pointed out that in our world, species after species is disappearing under the rubric of "progress."' Animals are being used for research on materials and cosmetics. Boundaries between forests and cities are fast disappearing, causing bears to show up in shopping districts of major cities and crocodiles on people's front lawns.
Pope Francis, who took his name from the 13th century saint, has been a vocal advocate for care for creation. In his encyclical, Laudato Si', he points out that the poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled. [§ 11]
When the Bible says that we humans have been given "dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth," [Genesis 1:26] it means that God has given us humans a very special task - the task of being the STEWARDS, or caretakers of His creation. As the stewards of God's creation, it is our God-given responsibility to care for the other living creatures that God has made.
So what we might be asking ourselves in the days leading up to the St. Francis celebration is, are we doing that?
My electronic meeting schedule this week is as follows:
Monday: Staff Meeting
Ohio Faith Leaders Prayer Gathering
Celebration, Chardon, Council Meeting
Tuesday: NEOS Executive Committee
Wednesday: First Call Theological Education
Congregational Resource Team
Bishop-Elect Laura Barbins
Thursday: Conference of Bishops
Friday: Conference of Bishops
Saturday: Ordination - Katheryn Kollar
The next Northeastern Ohio Synod Rostered Ministers Monthly Gathering will be Wednesday, October 7, 2020, beginning at 10 a.m. Please email the synod office (firstname.lastname@example.org) or contact your conference Dean for the link.
We close with a prayer for our earth from Laudato Si' by Pope Francis
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
+Bishop Abraham Allende