May I never boast of anything except the cross of our
Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified
to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor
uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!
Galatians 6:14–15 (NRSV).
This reading comes from the feast of St. Francis which we
will celebrate on October 4. In the Epistle to the Galatians,
St. Paul makes the argument that circumcision is not key to
following Jesus. Rather than through an outward act on behalf
of the believer, salvation and a new creation come through
Christ’s suffering and death. Christ’s self offering of himself on the cross is such a beautiful, loving gift that everything else in the world pales in comparison. Attachments to the world die away for the one whose goal is to live in the new creation. This statement, “by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world,” is reminiscent of St. Francis’ renunciation of the world.
Francis’ father, a rich merchant, probably wanted Francis to follow in his footsteps. Instead Francis had a conversion experience and rather than embracing his father’s vocation, he stripped himself of his expensive clothing and gave it to a poor person standing nearby. Like Paul Francis took up the cross as his emblem, but unlike Paul not just figuratively. Francis miraculously bore the marks of Christ’s crucifixion on his own hands and feet.
Many of us wear crosses. Those who do probably all have our different reasons. Some of my friends have questioned my wearing a cross, “I wouldn’t wear an electric chair around my neck. Why do you wear a cross?” It is good to be asked these questions and
good to have an answer. Otherwise I am just using the cross as an ornament and that would be a strange
thing. The new creation to which Paul refers is key. For the Christian – Christ’s life, death, and resurrection form a pattern of redemption and create a new creation. Through it God shows that with God’s help even death brings life. Even an instrument of tortuous death can become the means of the world’s salvation. So, there is a new creation; that is the good news we are called to share. Nothing matters compared to such a great gift. I wear the cross because I need to be reminded that even when my body dies, my life goes on. Not only that, my suffering will be redeemed. I can count on that. Life comes out of death. My compost worms teach me that all of the time when they convert our food scraps to worm castings for my garden. It is easy to see life, death, and resurrection everywhere in nature if you take a little time to look.
We may be as a world and nation, walking in the shadow of death, but life will spring up from this time. We can see it even now in loving teachers who do their best to teach children in difficult circumstances, in firefighters and first responders. We see it in deeper conversations about racial equality and many, many other ways. The thing is that we are not suffering alone, Jesus walks this way with us into the new creation. There is nothing better than that.
What else was Francis known for? Preaching to the animals, and his love of creation! Bring your furry, feathered, or scaly friends and come celebrate the Feast of St. Francis with us with the blessing of the animals. There will be (God-willing) an outdoor Eucharist and pet blessing on October 4 at 8:00 a.m. and an online Zoom Ante-Communion and pet blessing at 10:00 a.m. I wonder if I should bring my worms?
MESSAGE FROM OUR VICAR
ST. BEDE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
1609 Elm St. Forest Grove, OR
We strive to know Christ more deeply and bring others to his redeeming grace.