The New Room is sharing a Friday reflection each week. We hope that these short reflections will act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.
This week’s reflection is from Revd Dr Jonathan Pye our Bristol Chair of District.
Methodists don’t do saints, but if they did… I suspect that St Francis would be one they did do. This weekend, the Church remembers Francesco Bernadone who we know better as ‘Francis of Assisi’. In many ways, though living 500 years apart, there are remarkable similarities between Francis and John Wesley.
Both Francis and Wesley realised that following Jesus did not mean that life was always going to be easy. Both gave up positions of privilege for the sake of the gospel, believing that the gospel makes its demands. Both embraced a simplicity of life – what Francis called Lady Poverty – giving away all but the basic necessities of life to meet the needs of others; both became itinerant preachers because both believed that discipleship meant going ‘not just to those who need you but to those who need you most…
Both Francis and Wesley had the enduring conviction that the Good News of the Gospel was for everybody. Long before the invention of printing, Francis wanted to find a way of sharing the stories about Jesus with ordinary people. The same was true of the majority of people to whom Wesley went. Francis and Wesley both told the stories of Jesus in language that ordinary people could understand, in the places where they were – they talked about God’s love and forgiveness and about how people should treat each other, in ways which people could relate to their own lives. When Francis sent his companions out to preach he said, ‘preach the gospel, use words if necessary…’. For Francis and Wesley, the message of Christianity was not complicated – it was very simple, God loves people and he wants them to love one another.
Both Francis and Wesley believed that God’s love knew no boundaries – no one was excluded. In the times when both lived, many were excluded. whether it was about money or social standing, or health. Both knew how Jesus treated people, especially those who others would have nothing to do with, and they knew that if they were truly going to be followers of Jesus, they had to act in the same way.
Today we give thanks for Francis and for his obedience to God’s call, his conviction that God’s love is for all and that God calls us, too, to share in showing love and acceptance to others so that we, too, can be counted among God’s saints.
when the world was growing cold,
you raised up blessed Francis
to renew in your Church
the life of simplicity and evangelical poverty.
Mercifully grant to us, your people, the grace
to bear the cross for love of Him
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and forever. Amen.