Be Like Trail Mix
“It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”
Francis of Assisi
Just before waking this morning, I had a most interesting dream. I dreamed I was about to deliver a sermon. Standing in the church narthex, I furiously scribbled notes on the text, trying to get it just right and leave nothing out. I walked into the sanctuary, which was a large, vaulted space full of people, and almost bolted from the room. Too many people! But, as they began greeting me and taking their seats, I calmed down. As I walked toward the altar, I saw to my left, standing in the wings, a group of men, who appeared to be field workers, perhaps migrants, wearing dirty clothes and sweat bands. I turned to them and said, “Come on in. There's plenty of room.” When I finally got to the pulpit and looked out at that crowd, I told them, “We look like a big bag of trail mix! Savory, sweet, spicy, packed with nuts, and perfect!”
I have no idea what the sermon was supposed to be about—aren't you glad! Whatever it was, it went right out the window when I saw those men standing outside the sanctuary. There are no outsiders in the church, right? At least, there were none in Jesus' church. Francis of Assisi, who lived in the 12th century, had been a partying drunkard and a soldier of Assisi. He was captured by the army of Perugia and put into prison. While he waited for his rich father to bail him out, he began having visions and hearing the voice of Christ calling him to rebuild the church. Once out of prison, he renounced his life of wealth and privilege, and became an itinerant preacher to the poor. Deep into his ministry, he received the stigmata—wounds in his hands like Jesus had from the crucifixion—the blood from which was said to heal others. Francis died at the age of forty-four and was canonized just two years later. He became the patron saint of animals and the environment. Francis walked his talk. We could use him right about now.
You'll be happy to know, I'm not preaching today or any other day. If you are, be sure to welcome in the stranger. We are meant to be like trail mix; a blend of everything tasty and nutritious—including nuts, thank God—and perfect in every way.
In the Spirit,