Care for some fresh news from heaven today?


Detail from log cabin in Rendalen, Norway

Detail from log cabin in Rendalen, Norway

One day Francis was attending mass at Church of the Portiuncula, outside of Asissi, when the text was Matthew 10:7-9.

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—”

When Francis heard the words of Jesus to his disciples, to go and preach and take no money, he stood up, according to Celano (Celano, First Life, IX.22), the biographer closest to Francis, and said, “This is what I wish, this is what I seek, this is what I long to do with all my heart!”

Francis threw off his shoes, wrapped a rough cloth around him and started preaching repentance (Lawrence 1989, 246).

This story about Francis struck a cord with me, because my half-uncle, five times removed, John Chapman, made a similar renunciation of wealth and commitment to preaching.

One day Uncle Chapman heard a man preaching on the frontier, “Where is the modern day John the Baptist, who dresses in hides and preaches repentance!?”

The next day, Uncle Chapman walked up to the preacher and the brush arbor meeting dressed in a skin, with no shoes, and proclaiming good news. His good news was that the earth and everything in it is God’s and so he preached, gave up his shoes to those in need, and planted apple trees for the frontier people to have the much needed use of apple cider for canning, drinking, and well, some pioneers I’m sure fermented the cider before drinking.

Uncle Chapman would often be invited into a homestead and would take a seat on the floor or a humble seat and with a Bible in his hand would ask the question, “Care for some fresh news from Heaven today?”

People called Uncle Chapman “Johnny Appleseed,” but his real name was John Chapman, my great, great, great, great, great, half uncle. That’s enough to claim him–many people claim ancestry of famous people with less than that!

Care for some fresh news from heaven today: Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”