Celebrating Clare of Assisi - and her example of Missional Community

 Gate Pa – August 12 2012


Hebrew Scripture:          2 Samuel 18: 5-9, 15, 31-33
Psalm:                            130 (confession)
Epistle:                           Ephesians 4: 25-5:2         
Gospel:                           John 6: 35, 41-51              

What I want to say:

Introduce people to St. Clare and some of her gift to the Franciscan story
Use her story to explore the readings
These help us understand the gift of being God’s people, a missional community

What I want to happen:

St. George’s people to more intentionally embrace being a missional people in how we treat each other and those we cross paths with, like Brian

The Sermon

1.      Introduction: - who is Clare?

Born 1193 or 1194?
Great noble families Assisi
Role was to marry as directed
Always prayerful, spent significant time alms giving
Refused two offers of marriage
1212 she heard Francis preaching and was so impressed that she determined join him in life poverty
Palm Sunday March 1212 Clare secretly left home and joined Francis at Portiuncula outside Assisi
Uncle not going tolerate that – marriages arranged each
But when tried to lift them they were unable to…. left with Francis
Sister Agnes Later, her widowed mother joined her
not stay with with Francis – placed them with Benedictine community
In 1215, when the number of adherents had grown, Francis set up the small community in a house near San Damiano, the church just outside Assisi he had repaired a few years earlier. Clare remained there for next 40 years
became first home poor clares – came to be known
She died in 1253. She was canonised two years later.
talk about two key principles in way Clare
·         “The Privilege of Poverty” Pope Innocent IV granted Clare, a papal grant which ensured that the three early houses of Assisi, Perugia and Florence should never be endowed but depend solely on alms
·         crucifix was mirror in which all were to look

2.      Privilege of poverty

            Radical vision of community based on gospel
cf other monasteries
            embraced poverty
all equal
all marks of previous life wiped
all contributed equally life community
all benefited equally
all relied on alms others
become very dour and austere
life Clare sisters marked by gentleness, love and joy, and generosity
people were inspired by what they saw and heard
saw God at work in these women
Order quickly spread
Privilege of poverty was granted by Pope Innocent IV just before her death, a papal grant which ensured that the three early houses of Assisi, Perugia and Florence should never be endowed but depend solely on alms

3.      Ephesians and missional community

Reading heard Ephesians is also about this kind of radical community
not embracing poverty in the same way
describes community that had potential to stand out
to inspire
to draw people to God
call this a missional community
written church struggling to hold Jew and non-Jew (gentile) together
old ways thinking hard break
writer offering insights into how to live out relationship with Christ, and through that, relationship with one another
much more set rules to be applied to everyday life as it sometimes is interpreted
inviting readers into a new state of being out of which new way of being community was possible
Describes readers, us, as members or limbs of each other – we need each other
what he is doing is describing how we might live in such a way that we honour each other as our fellow limbs
Because we belong to each other exhorts readers put away all falsehood
            more than telling truth or not telling lies each other
being honest with ourselves and each other about who we are
how we feel
            ok to be angry
            be honest about what causes it and root emotions of that
                        do something about it,
don’t let it fester because that will destroy you
and your community
exhorts them to turn greed (*theft) into generosity – how often we leave out the second half of that sentence.
speak in such a way that others are built up, not diminished – “our words may give grace to those who hear”
encouraged to be imitators of God
è what does that mean to be an imitator of God
o   means being able to identify the qualities of God that we are to imitate
è what are those qualities?
è these are qualities that are to mark Ephesians
è and those are qualities that are to mark us as todays readers
o   are to mark the way we treat each other
o   those we come across in our daily lives
è those qualities marked Clare and her sisters.
how do we attain these qualities as individuals and as a community?
that leads us to the second facet of Clare’s spirituality

4.      Second facet of Clare’s spirituality – praying before the crucifix

            Sisters were to pray before, gaze into face crucified one each day
            no glass mirrors
Christ was to be their mirror – mirror into their souls
who they are much more important what look like
place who they are before the one who died for our love
Clare inviting sisters place their heart into the heart of God
recognise who they were are in the eyes God
o   beloved
ð  able to be honest about who they were to each other
ð  in doing do their eyes and ears opened to the mystery Christ present in world around us
ð  as compared to conventual monastic spiritualty taught one look beyond the distractions of this world to find God
·         one key elements Franciscan spirituality, is that through incarnation, God is found in this world, in beauty nature, and in the people live among
·          recognise that fullness of who we are in Christ can only be found in the other
that feels like lot of what Johns material about Jesus being the bread of life is about, but that is next weeks sermon.