There is a phrase that appears twice in today’s lesson from the Letter to the Ephesians that immediately grabs my attention. We read, as I said, not once, but twice the praise of his glory. On the first occasion we hear so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. A few verses later we read this [being marked by the Holy Spirit] is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people to the praise of his glory.
It is this image of living for the praise of God’s glory that attracts me, and it is what, I think we hint at, when we say in our Rule that God chooses us from varied places backgrounds to become a company of friends, spending our whole life abiding in him and giving ourselves up to the attraction of his glory.
Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
Today, we celebrate in the calendar of the Church, Saint Francis of Assisi who died on this day in the year 1226. Born 44 years earlier to wealthy parents, Francis grew up in the lap luxury and as a young man enjoyed a care-free lifestyle, gallivanting with the other upper-crust youth of Assisi with whom he was popular. Upon returning home from fighting in the Crusades, Francis had a conversion experience. After a prolonged illness he stumbled upon the ruins of a church in San Damiano where he heard the voice of Christ say, “Francis, repair my falling house.” He returned home and sold some of his father’s expensive silk to pay for the repairs. Angry, his father brought him into the public square where, with the citizens of Assisi witnessing the display, disowned and disinherited him. Francis likewise renounced his father’s wealth and tradition says he took off his expensive clothing and laid them at his father’s feet and walked away naked. He left Assisi and began to rebuild the church at San Damiano all by himself.While engaging in this work, he ministered to the poor of Assisi, especially the lepers who were feared by the townsfolk and were literal outcasts. Francis would sneak back into town and scavenge for scraps of bread and vegetables to provide nourishment for those he cared for.
“Emotional labor” is a term for the work we do when we disguise our feelings. If we’re sad, we may pretend to be cheerful; if we’re angry or irritated, we may affect a calm, untroubled façade; if we’re tired, we may put on a perky face. We’re all socialized to do this when circumstances call for it, or seem to call for it. Some professions require a great deal of emotional labor—ordination usually entails a great deal of emotional labor to meet peoples’ high expectations of clergy.
“It’s not about you.”
With those words, evangelical pastor Rick Warren opens his best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.
“The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness,” writes Pastor Warren. “It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”