Pastor’s Email Devotion — Pr. Sarah, Guest Devotioneer
The Week of Pentecost 18
September 27, 2015
Unless you have been out of the country or living under a rock this week you have probably heard word that Pope Francis visited our neck of the woods. Every time I traveled on Rt. 30 or 283 (or any major road and highway) I would be greeted with flashing signs “Papal visit: expect delays.” I listen to a radio station airing out of Philadelphia and each day I was given an update about the city’s preparation to welcome the Pontiff. The other night I was watching a late night show and the comedian featured an entire show toward the pope’s visit.
I would say it’s been pope mania!
Now as you know I’m not Catholic (yes, the whole female pastor thing probably gave that away), but I’ve found myself paying close attention to his visit to America. I’ve gone online and read his address to Congress. He brought up some basic tenets of the Christian faith including the Golden Rule or as Jesus said, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) And it was heart-warming to see how well he was received by our representatives in Congress. I appreciated that Pope Francis didn’t speak in “blue” or “red” and I don’t think he leaned toward one party or the other, but instead his words reflected the faith that we all share. Words that have echoed from the prophets of old, to the sermons of Jesus, and spread to the four corners of the world. Words that remind us to worship God as our Lord (and not rely on the materials that will wither and fade), to protect the vulnerable and voiceless and to build up the kingdom here and now.
And people have been falling head over heels to hear this man of God. I actually got to hear his speech to Congress and one of my first impressions was, “Gee…he really has a thick accent. What was that word he just said?” Okay…so obviously English is not the Pope’s first language! Perhaps it isn’t his public speaking techniques that are capturing people’s imagination. So what is it? Why are congressmen moved to tears, and big Hollywood personalities professing their faith and thousands of people clamoring to see this man of God? He is a celebrity to be sure, but I think it’s something more. I think Pope Francis is taking a chapter out of the book of Francis of Assisi (his name’s sake). Francis of Assisi legendarily said: “Preach the Gospel. Use words if necessary.”
I believe that behind the “pope mania” folks are swept up by a charismatic leader who offers words of hope, but more importantly this man of God lives that hope, as well. When invited to lunch by dignitaries and congressmen, the Pope insisted on having lunch with the homeless…and insisted on serving them. He has gone out of his way to bless the sick and bring focused attention to the plight of the forgotten. And I believe this living out the gospel is what draws people to him.
So what may we learn from this fellow brother in Christ? “Preach the Gospel. Use words if necessary.”
How may this week be a week of showing mercy to people around you? Who will you encounter who is ignored by so many, but you see them and you care about them? What ways can you offer the “Golden Rule” to your family, your colleagues, your friends? How can you preach the gospel, and only use words if necessary?
Friends, I pray that this week may be a blessed week of sharing God’s love.