Repair My Church
Formerly attributed to Giotto di Bondone – Public Domain, Link
St. Francis of Assisi, who many of us know from his storied love of creation and of animals, began his life in a wealthy family before an experience with a naked and homeless stranger transformed his life into one of intense devotion as a follower of Jesus.  One particularly powerful story from his incredible life happened one day while Francis was journeying near the church of San Damiano, which, being as old as it was, had fallen into decay.  Feeling pulled toward the derelict sanctuary, Francis entered it and began to pray before an image of the crucified Christ that still hung above the altar. 
As he prayed, Francis became filled with emotion as he gazed at Jesus’s cross.  Then out of nowhere he heard a voice tell him three times, “Francis, go and repair my church which is in ruins.”  Afraid of the voice he had heard speaking to him, Francis looked around and saw no one.  Once he regained his composure he set himself to obey what had been commanded of him, repairing the church around him as best he could, stone by stone.  He did this two more times to two other church buildings before it became clear to him that the Holy Spirit had not spoken of repairing a material building at all, but of repairing the wounds of the people God has called together to be the church of Jesus Christ. 
The time of St. Francis was also late in the period of the crusades, a time of violence and of movements in the church that ran counter to the God we encounter in Jesus Christ.  War in the Middle East had made the church wealthier than it had ever been to that point, and with that wealth came the construction of large cathedrals as well as the power to influence the politics of the day.  The church of Francis’s time, rediscovering the simple way of Jesus. 
God doesn’t want us simply to worship God; God wants us to love God.  And we love God by loving the people around us — our “neighbors,” by resisting evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.  We gather not so that we may dwell on love’s meaning, but so that love would become our meaning as we follow Jesus into the world.  Our lives are where God has chosen for grace to take on flesh most clearly in the world.  We are God’s temple, not members of a dead religion.  We’re the bodily presence of Jesus Christ in the world, free to pursue a life activated by love that seeks out the other who is hurting, broken, and robbed of their God-given dignity. 
- Pastor Patrick  
Last Published: April 2, 2019 1:51 PM
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