This, for those of you who don't do this stuff, is the day when we celebrate the person, persons, act or whatever it is that the church we're in is named after. Today, being the celebration of my hero who is listed in the Church of England's 'who's who's' as:
Francis of Assisi, Friar, Deacon, Founder of the Friars Minor, 1226
And here's his team photo':
Now, for many, Francis is remembered as the bloke covered in pigeon poo (thanks to the birds on his head and shoulders) and surrounded by animals. For me this man is so much more than the patron saint of animals (and now, apparently, ecology - so Greenpeace will be raising a glass today I guess) but unlike Patrick, the Guinness won't be flowing, but he is up there as one of my heroes of the faith. And here's why:
Born into money, luxury and privilege but he put it aside because of his faith in Jesus, the Christ.
When others were fleeing from lepers, he was caring for them and embracing them.
Saw past possessions, power and being served and lived a life of poverty, submission and faith.
Francis and his beliefs and attitudes (generally speaking) is compelling and were it to be displayed by the Church today, a winner. This is a man who we would never let into our church congregations today (after all, he's definitely a bit flaky, isn't he?) for he'd soon find himself in conflict with the PCC and it's members and the treasurer would have a field day with him.
This is what Church at its basest and purest is all about - being different and being the difference in the community and people around us.
So forget the bloke with animals on his head and shoulders (yes, we have one of those in our church building) and see a man who devoted himself to following Christ and, denying himself, being Christlike - andask yourself how we might emulate him.
Happy St Francis' Day people