On Sunday 23 April the Rev’d Margaret Holt, the first woman ordained as a deacon in the Diocese of The Murray performed the liturgical duties of a deacon for the first time at St John’s Langhorne Creek and then at Christ Church Strathalbyn. The celebrant at the Eucharist was the Rev’d Adrian Stephens. The members of the parish are delighted to welcome her in her new role.
The large contingent of parishioners from the Parish of Strathalbyn who were able to be present at Margaret Holt’s ordination to the Diaconate on Saturday 22 April were delighted to have been the witnesses of such an historic event in the life of the Diocese of The Murray. This is the first time that a woman has been made a Deacon in this Diocese. Margaret is a much loved and valuable member of our parish family.
Franciscan prayers days 7,8 and 9
The Order sets out, in the name of Christ, to break down barriers between people and to seek equality for all. We accept as our second aim (the first aim being ‘To make our Lord known and loved everywhere’) the spreading of a spirit of love and harmony among all people. We are pledged to fight against the ignorance, pride, and prejudice that breed injustice or partiality of any kind.
Members of The Third Order fight against all injustice in the name of Christ, in whom there can be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for in him all are one. Our chief object is to reflect that openness to all which was characteristic of Jesus. This can only be achieved in a spirit of chastity, which sees others as belonging to God and not as a means of self-fulfilment.
As Tertiaries, we are prepared not only to speak out for social justice and international peace, but to put these principles into practice in our own live, cheerfully facing any scorn or persecution to which this may lead.
The blessing of the Animals – St Francis Day 4 October 2015 Matt 11: 25-30 Marg Holt TSSF
One day I was visiting with a friend who is terrified of spiders when she noticed a huntsman spider and was about to flatten it when I screamed ‘don’t kill it! I’ll take it outside’…and Di is not au fait really with saints of the church but she groaned ‘ok, ok, St Francis of Assisi!…’ It is not by coincidence that World Animal Day is Oct 4th – the feast day of St Francis of Assisi.
You can read the rest of Marg’s Sermon here.
THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
With confidence and trust let us pray to our Father God:
We thank you, Father, for all animals and creatures on the Earth who teach us how to rely on you with simplicity and humility. Thank you for how they teach us how to worship and praise you every day for all that we receive from you. Bless their habitats and environment, their health and well-being, that they may continue to teach us of Your wisdom, goodness and grace:
Father, our Creator, hear us.
We thank you, Father, for veterinarians and all those working in the world to protect endangered and suffering animals and creatures. We thank you for those who support and care for bird and animal sanctuaries. As we hold before you all people who are suffering in violent and war torn areas of the world we pray that we may honour all life and work to protect and rescue our animal brethren from the suffering of poaching, hunting and blood sports.
Father, our Creator, hear us.
Father, you gave us responsibility to care for and nurture all that you have made with humility and respect. We grieve for all the damage we have done to the homes and habitats of both people and our animal friends on the earth, in the oceans, forests and mountains. Help us to restore the environment for all of us to live together in joy, love and peace.
Father, our Creator, hear us.
We thank you, Father, for all the good things we receive from our animal friends – clothing, protection, transport and food. We thank you for our special companions who enrich our lives every day – for their love, friendship and devotion. May we see reflected in them the goodness and love of God.
Forgive us, Lord, when animals die or suffer needlessly at our hands. Forgive us, Father that we often see their lives as so very cheap compared to ours. Thank you for the example of Brother Francis of Assisi who showed us what living in community in God’s Kingdom of Love should be.
Father, our Creator, hear us.
Father, we hold before you all those who are in need in our families, among our friends and in our community. We ask for your blessing, provision and healing for our human and animal friends whom we bring before you now…
Father, our Creator, hear us.
On Sunday 4 October we celebrated St Francis’ Day and World Animal Day with an outdoor Eucharist at Christ Church, Strathalbyn at which special prayers were offered for our fellow creatures. The celebrant was Fr Adrian Stephens and the preacher was Marg Holt who is a member of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis.
Most of the extra members of the congregation were dogs of various kinds but there was also a bird and a snake together with an avian chorus in the trees around us.
In the example of his own sacrifice, Jesus reveals the secret of bearing fruit. In surrendering himself to death, he becomes the source of new life. Lifted from the earth on the cross, he draws all people to himself. Clinging to life causes life to decay: the life that is freely given is eternal. (Day 2 Franciscan daily prayers)
In our journey on Earth, following in Christ’s path, we need to also remind ourselves of our responsibility to all living things, not just our fellow brothers, sisters and neighbours.
Pope Francis’ recent encyclical Laudato Si, is worth reading. It is a comprehensive overview of the extent to which humanity has failed in its stewardship of this Earth. He described the Earth, our home, as “beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” He has been criticized by some as exceeding his authority. But the Bible does give him authority just as it instructs us to protect God’s Creation. Let us look at what the Bible says. In Genesis 1:21 we are told that:
God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
And in Genesis 1:28 He instructs us to “Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
We are reminded in Leviticus 25:23 “for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.”
This is repeated in Psalm 115:16 “The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man.”
And again in Psalm 24:1,2 “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”
Clearly the Earth belongs to God which He has entrusted to us for our benefit. We are only its stewards. We will be judged by how we manage it.
This point is made in Luke 16:2 in the parable about the good steward where Jesus instructs us in what it means to be a good steward. While he was referring to managing a master’s business, he did say “if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” This could also be seen as a warning that if we are not wise in caring for what God has given us (His Creation) then we will not be trusted with what God has promised us.
Failing to be good stewards and respecting God’s Creation will result in consequences as described in Revelation 11:18. It is a clear command and will be one matter for which we will be judged.
“The time has come for judging the dead and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great, and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
Let us therefore see what God has given us for our enjoyment and not misuse it. Psalm 119:18, 19 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.” The law referred to here includes the truth of God’s Creation in Genesis 1:21 and the commands in Genesis 1:28.
Years before I became a Third Order Franciscan I was studying fulltime for a Bible and Ministry Diploma. I expressed one day that St Francis of Assisi was one of my heroes and one of the lecturers exclaimed: “what! Assisi? That madman?!” His contempt was rather obvious in the way he spat out the word ‘Assisi’ rather than use Francis’ name. He made it quite clear that for him Francis was just a crazy person, abusing his body in misguided penance who didn’t know the scriptures or preach the gospel in truth, and as for the stigmata… ( I do get the uncomfortable feeling sometimes that there are people who believe that there were no real Christians between 300 AD and the Reformation…)
Then I recorded the Zefferelli movie recently, ‘Brother Sun, Sister Moon’ which had some very beautiful moments but made me think again how, like the lecturer, they have missed the very essence of who Br Francis was and why he took the path he did. There are some lovely scenes in this movie of Francis and his ‘poor little brothers’ laughing together, even in their hunger and cold and deprivation, and it captured well their love for each other that bound them together. It seemed, uncomfortably to me however, to avoid any focus on the one person who was the very centre and the very reason for that love – Jesus Christ, whom Francis loved with a total abandonment and passion. This was also obvious in the changing of the words of the canticle Brother Sun, Sister Moon which is the theme song. While one can understand the commercial reasons for this I again thought how this image of Francis gives people the impression that Francis was a tree-hugging, dancing/singing nature lover who had a vague religious attachment along the way!
As I have read more and more about Br Francis I have been struck by his total Christ-centeredness and, although passionate, eccentric and determined in his individual following of the gospel, he was always ‘orthodox’ in his Christian faith and in his respect and support for the Church.
Francis did realise in later years that the abuse of his body in actual fact was counter-productive in his work for the Lord and yes, Francis was suspicious of books and too much learning but this was because he wanted to get out there and live the Gospel not spend his life reading and studying it. Francis longed for the contemplative life acheter viagra 10 pilules. He ultimately brought this to God and was told by our Lord that he must continue to actively preach the Gospel. He wandered the towns preaching Jesus and his passion was so great that both rich and poor encountered the living Christ and desired to follow Jesus in the example of Francis. One of the things that touched me deeply in my journey to becoming a Franciscan (while on retreat in a Syrian Monastery) was the encounter between Francis and the Sultan during one of the Crusades. In fearlessly preaching the gospel of Christ, with a love and respect that greatly impressed the Sultan, Francis witnessed to the love, grace and beauty of Christ amidst an atmosphere of war, desecration and hatred.
Francis was totally Christ centred, passionately in love with Jesus, living humbly and in poverty, without greed or desire for power or status. In this, of course, he imitated our Lord Jesus who, possessing the heart of God himself, was the ultimate example to us of walking the path of humility, love and joy.
Our Br. Francis desired above all in his life to make Christ known, loved and adored. In this he inspired all those around him.
He has inspired me and this is why I am a Franciscan…