Sunday School

St Francis of Assisi

Original Homily Rich in Love: St. Francis, a Godly Play-Inspired Story source link below.

Francis was born in the town of Assisi, in Italy. His father was a wealthy merchant, who named his son Francis—which means “Frenchman”—because he loved the fine wares and delicious food of France. Francis grew up loving fine food and wine and beautiful clothes and music and dancing as well, and he loved to have wonderful parties with his friends so he could share these things with them. He wanted to be brave and strong and to protect his town from enemies, so when Assisi went to war against a nearby town he rode off with the soldiers to fight. In the battle Francis was captured and made a prisoner, and he had to live for a year in a dark and miserable dungeon. But even though he was in such a terrible place he still managed to laugh and joke and sing and lift the spirits of the other prisoners. When he was finally ransomed, he returned to Assisi and to his friends and parties, and everyone loved him all the more for the courage and good spirit he had shown in the battle and in the dungeon.

Francis wanted to become a noble knight, and to win glory, and to fight against the Muslims, so his father bought him a fine horse and splendid armor and a magnificent cape, and he rode off to join the Fourth Crusade. But after he had ridden only a single day, God spoke to him in a dream and told him that this was not the right path. Francis was confused, but he returned home to Assisi only to be teased by his friends who thought he had been too afraid to join the Crusade, and scolded by his father who was upset at having wasted so much money on a fine horse and armor for nothing. Francis began to spend time in prayer, asking God what was the right path.

One day Francis saw a poor man who was a leper. He had ugly sores all over his body and wore ragged, dirty clothes and smelled bad. Francis had always loved beautiful things, and the sight of the leper upset him and made him feel afraid. But in spite of this he went up to the poor leper and embraced him and kissed his misshapen hand. Then something happened that surprised Francis. The leper embraced him back, and kissed Francis’ hand, and suddenly Francis felt the most wonderful joy he had ever known. He felt God’s love come into him through the leper’s touch, and he knew that God’s love was for the entire world, and because God loved everything, everything was beautiful. He laughed and sang because of the beauty that God’s love made, but when he turned again to look for the leper, the leper had disappeared.

Another time Francis was praying in the church of St. Damian just outside Assisi, which was falling apart from neglect. There was an image of Christ on the cross above the altar, and as Francis prayed it seemed to speak to him and said, “Francis, repair my house which is falling into ruin.” Francis thought this must mean the ruined church in which he was praying, so he went and sold some of his father’s wares to get money to fix the broken down building. But when his father heard of it he came and took back the money and locked Francis in his room. Francis’ mother helped him to escape, and he returned to St. Damian’s church to repair it with his own hands. Francis’ father though he had lost his mind, and took him to the city court. There, in front of all the ruling men of the city, he said he would disown Francis and take away his inheritance and all his fine things unless he stopped acting so strangely and came back to work in the family business. Francis said, “You have always been my father. Now I will have no father except ‘Our Father who is in heaven.’” And with that he took off all the expensive and beautiful clothes he wore and gave them back to his father, then went out from the court in only a shirt made of scratchy hair. He went to go live in the woods outside Assisi, and when robbers found him and beat him up and took every last thing that he owned, he sang and laughed because now he was free from all the things that had distracted him from finding the right path.

Francis took care of the poor and the sick and lived in the woods and owned nothing and preached about the love God had for everything that made everything beautiful. People began to follow Francis because they wanted to live like he did and know the love he felt for everything God loved. Francis called his followers “Little Brothers,” and he went to Rome to ask the Pope for permission to make the Little Brothers into a real religious order. At first the Pope didn’t want to meet with the strange, scruffy man who lived in the woods, but then he had a dream in which he saw the great Lateran Basilica—the Pope’s own church—about to fall over, and the man from Assisi holding it up. He realized God was telling him that Francis’ mission was very important for the entire Church. He gave Francis his blessing, and the Little Brothers became an order of monastics and were called friars.

Francis saw that because God loved everything, the whole world and everything in it was like a family. He called the sun “Brother Sun,” and the moon “Sister Moon,” and made up hymns about how the whole world praised God by being what God had made it. He once preached a sermon to some birds he saw in the woods, calling them his little sisters. When a fearsome wolf began to frighten the townspeople of the nearby town of Gubbio and eat their livestock, he went and found the wolf and said, “Brother Wolf, you have frightened these people and eaten their livestock, but since you only did so because you were hungry, will you promise to make peace with them and do them no harm if they will feed you every day?” The wolf bowed its head and put its paw in Francis’ hand, and from that day on it lived peacefully in Gubbio, and the townspeople fed it like a pet.

By the end of his life Francis had traveled far and wide telling people about God’s love and helping the poor, and had gained many followers, and everyone knew of the man of God who owned nothing and loved everyone and everything. He had even tried to stop the wars between the Christians and Muslims by going to preach to the Muslim sultan. His preaching caused a great revival among people throughout Europe, for this was the true meaning of the vision he had seen so long ago in St. Damian’s—that he would be a repairer of God’s Church throughout the land, not just a single church building.

We remember St. Francis because he was rich in love.

Sunday School

The Five Senses

As you know, we have five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. Each of these senses is very important to us. Today  we are going to hear about the sense of touch and it’s importance. Touch has become very topical in Covid times, we are continually told to be careful what we touch and to sanitize our hands regularly or better still to wash them . If we close  our eyes we can often tell what an object is by its size, shape, and texture  . In the Bible, Jesus showed His power through touch. We’ll hear about two ways He used touch to help people. 

One day Jesus was walking through a large crowd. The people were crowding around so that he could hardly move. There was a woman in the crowd who was not well; her body had been bleeding for 12 years. There wasn’t even a doctor who could help her. But she thought Jesus could heal her. She thought, “If I could just get close enough to touch (pause) his robe, I would be healed.” So she pushed through the crowd and did it! And she was immediately better!

When the woman touched Jesus, He felt the power go out of Him. When He found out who touched (pause) Him, He said, “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free from your suffering.”

At this same time, Jesus was actually on His way to help a church leader whose daughter was very sick. After the woman had touched Him, He learned the girl had died. Then He told everyone, “Have faith!” and He made His way to the church leader’s home. When Jesus saw the people crying over the girl’s death, He told them she was only sleeping. This made them laugh, but He still went and touched  her hand and said a prayer. And she got up!

The power in Jesus’ touch is amazing! 

Dear God, we long to reach out and touch You and to feel Your power in our lives. Please help us see and feel Your power.
In Jesus name.

Thank you to Claire Hannington for this week’s Sunday School Lesson.

Sunday School

The Mystery Person

The Mystery Person:

 F is for “FORGIVING.” Even when we disobey or do something wrong, this person is willing to forgive us.

 A is for “ATTENTIVE.” When we need someone to talk to, this person is willing to listen to what we have to say.

 T is for “TEACHER.” This person teaches us the most important lessons of our life. He teaches us right from wrong. He teaches us by example how to love one another.

 H is for “HELPFUL.” This person helps us to make the important decisions we face each day. He may offer advice, or he may just be a good listener, but he is always there to help us.

 E is for “ENERGETIC.” No matter how tired he is, this person always seems to find the energy to do things with us and for us.

 R is for “READY.” This person is always ready to reach out in love to us. He is ready to do whatever we need.

Who is this person? Our father! Now, I realize that some of you might not have a father in your home, but you have a Heavenly Father who wants to do all of these things for you. After all, that is who we earthly fathers use as our example!

Dear Lord,
we thank you for our fathers. 
Help us this day to show our love and appreciation to our fathers,
and may we always remember to thank you,
our heavenly Father. 

Thank you to Claire Hannington for this week’s Sunday School lesson.

Happy Father’s day to all the dads, grandads, and uncles.

Sunday School

In the Beginning

The very first words in the Bible tell us that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Then the Bible goes on to tell about God’s creation. 

The first thing God created was light. The Bible tells us that God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God said, “It was good.” 

Then God said, “There needs to be a space to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters on the earth.” So God made a space to separate the earth from the heavens. He called it “sky.” And God said, “It was good.” 

Next, God brought all the waters of the earth together to make the oceans and the seas and to create dry land between them. Then He covered the dry land with flowers, trees, and grass. And God said…“It was good.” 

God paused, looked at the beautiful trees and flowers and said…  “It was good.”

He created the sun, moon, and stars. They were beautiful! God looked at them, and again He said.“It was good.” 

Then God created the birds and fish. He blessed them and told them to multiply so that the sea would be filled with fish of all shapes and sizes and the air would be filled with beautiful birds. God looked at them, smiled, and said, “It was good.” 

Finally, God made the animals. Tall, skinny giraffes and furry little squirrels. He made cuddly little kittens and big, ferocious lions — animals of every kind. Then God made man and woman. The Bible says He made people to be like Him and He put them in charge of all that He had created — the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living creature. And God said “It was good.” 

When God had finished, He looked at all that He had created and He said, “That is VERY GOOD!”

God we thank you that you alone are Creator. You are powerful and so creative. Thank you for making us in your image and making all things very good.  Help us to take care of your creation.

We ask this in Jesus’s name


Thank you to Claire Hannington for this week’s Sunday School Lesson.

Sunday School

Trinity Sunday

Today is called Trinity Sunday.  When you see the letters TRI at the beginning of a word, it’s a clue that the word might have something to do with the number three. Can you think of another word that starts with the letters TRI? There are lots of them.

I am thinking today of the word Tricycle. Have you ever ridden a tricycle? The word TRIcycle begins with those three letters — TRI. What is there about a tricycle that involves the number THREE?

That’s right! A tricycle has three wheels.

When you are very little the first cycle your parents might give you probably has three wheels. Why? Because tricycles are easier to ride than bicycles with two wheels and a lot easier to ride that unicycles which have only one wheel. Having three wheels helps you learn to ride and it is easier to keep your balance.

So let’s get back to the word we started talking about — the word TRINITY. This is a word we use to describe God. We worship ONE God. But as we grow up and learn about God we find it is easier to understand God when we think about God in three ways.

What are the first words of the Lord’s Prayer? Our father . . . . One way to understand God is to think of God as a father. God takes care of us like a father. He watches over us and provides for us, just like a Dad. But while we need a father to take care of us we also need friends who are more like us.

When we close our prayers we often say . . . We pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. We understand that Jesus Christ was God’s Son and entirely of God. Jesus lived on earth. He was more like a friend. He walked among people. He listened to them, worked with them, healed them and helped them with their troubles. That’s an important part of being God, too.

So now we have a God who is a Father (that’s one) and God who is a Son (that’s two). We need three to make the Trinity.

God has one more side and that side is the part we don’t see so much, but we can feel it. That part is called the Holy Spirit. You might remember that we talked last week about Pentecost when God sent the Holy Spirit into the  disciples and gave them the power and strength they needed to do God’s work. The Holy Spirit is a third way of understanding God.

So, we have three ways of thinking about God. God is our Father, who takes care of us. God is Jesus, his son and our friend. And God is the Holy Spirit, which gives power. It’s easier to understand God when we think about these three ideas. But it is also important to remember that God is ONE. That’s what Trinity means. One word. One God. Three ways of knowing God.

Thank you to Claire Hannington for this week’s Sunday School Lesson.