The Cross Has Splinters...

There are a lot of crosses in Mississippi, especially along the side of the road. On country roads (which are the majority) the crosses typically come in threes, are wooden, and often painted white. Most of them are weathered and tilting. There are also crosses placed in memory of people who died in car accidents, many of them with flowers and stuffed animals stapled to them. These crosses are so ubiquitous and part of the landscape that they are largely unremarkable. Perhaps this is why someone took it upon themselves to put up a giant cross visible from miles away. The first time I saw one was in Illinois, on the way to Indiana. We crested a hill and in the distance was a cross that looked as big or bigger than the Washington Monument. As we got closer I saw that it looked like galvanized sheet metal; it was on a concrete pad, surrounded by American flags. At the time I thought it was a typical freeway attraction; kind of like the world’s largest rocking chair (also in Illinois).  

A few years later I saw one of those crosses placed on Interstate 55 in Mississippi; when we moved, there were no fewer than 9 giant crosses within a 100 mile radius from our home. Each cross costs upwards of 350k, and they are financed entirely by donations. This is 3.15 million dollars spent on symbols, in the poorest state in the union. I used to make the argument that these crosses were a good thing, as every time I saw one it reminded me of Jesus; but the wooden crosses on the side of the road remind of Jesus too. People donating money to these cross projects feel like they are doing a good thing, that they are helping to spread the word; the word would be better spread through actual deeds of charity, love and grace. But that’s all incredibly hard work; it’s much easier to write a check and be done.  

I bring all this up because the cross has lost much of its meaning. On the one hand, it is a symbol of the greatest love and sacrifice the world has ever known; a promise made to all people that they are loved, saved, and called by God. On the other hand, it is a symbol of oppression, violence and despair. It is not either good or bad; it is good and bad; a symbol of our utter failure as people to love as we are called, and God’s unending love and grace for us in spite of all that. We do well to remember that the cross has splinters. 

As we move from Palm Sunday into Holy Week, I encourage you to remember the price paid for our forgiveness, and to not take anything away from the cross. It is not galvanized steel, ceramic, or flowery; it is hard wood, and they were used over and over. The Romans didn’t get new cross beams or vertical poles each time a person was crucified; they used them again and again. They were soaked through with blood and sweat. God took one of the worst things the world has ever known and transformed it into the greatest; but let us hold those two things in tension, as we marvel at Christ’s love and sacrifice. The cross is both a comfort and an affliction, and we don’t get to Easter Morning without it.  

Rector, St. Francis Episcopal Church
Rev. Jason's Week in Review...
March 23: Jennifer and I took the kids to daycare; caught up on email; together with another parishioner took communion to someone who is homebound; wrote reflection for e-news.

March 24: Spent time unpacking books in my office and working to make it mine - it’s slow going; sermon prep.

March 25: Sabbath time; sermon prep.

March 26: Sunday services; we had a number of visitors at both services, and the choir once again sang a beautiful anthem before communion. It was great to have Celeste back! Dinner with parishioners.

March 27: Spent the majority of the day editing bulletins for Holy Week; several small admin tasks.

March 28: Zoom meeting about Doors Open Peninsula; Lenten Devotion prep; lunch with parishioner; more Holy Week and Easter Prep; gave a brief tour to a couple who passed the church on their bike ride and wanted to see it - they are from Utah, but unchurched, so I encouraged them to seek out Utah Episcopalians; Taizé service.

March 29: Lenten Devotion prep; more work on Holy Week and Easter bulletins; staff meeting; talked with an engaged couple interested in joining the church; Lenten Program.

It's easy to schedule a meeting with Rev. Jason!
Click on this link to schedule either an individual or group meeting with Jason+.
Holy Week And Easter Worship at St. Francis
Next week is Palm Sunday - the start of Holy Week!
Holy Week and Easter Day are the crucial foundation of our faith. All our Lenten practices have been leading to this week.

On Maundy Thursday we remember His great gift to us of His of last supper - our Holy Eucharist - and we leave in solemnity just as He left His friends to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. We grieve at the cross on Friday, with excerpts from Fauré's famous Requiem sung by our choir and interwoven with scripture and prayer at 7pm., and finally - we meet the Risen Lord in Glory and Joy on Easter morning!
Candy-filled eggs needed!!!
Easter Egg hunt needs donations! by Wed. April 5.
Please help us prepare for our children's Easter Egg Hunt by donating candy-filled, plastic eggs for the event, similar to the photo (any brand, but no nuts). Eggs may be donated in the church office. Thank you for helping us bring this fun event to St. Francis!
Make a Dedication for A Loved One This Easter
Deadline THIS Sunday April 2
As ever our church will look and sound triumphally joyful this Easter. You can make a donation in memory, or in thanksgiving for a loved one to help cover these costs. A sheet of all the dedications is printed and handed out with all our Easter Worship services. Be a part of it!
St. Luke's Outreach
St. Francis serves the unhoused in Long Beach.
Every other month we serve the unhoused in Long Beach. On Saturday mornings from around 7:30 – 9:30 a.m., we provide a nourishing breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, warm soup, crackers, muffins, fruit, hot coffee and chocolate. The St. Luke’s Breakfast and Shower Ministry always loves new volunteers, including families with children of middle-school age or older.
Ministry Shepherd Gayle Taylor at the clothing donation desk.
Coffee and
some healthy food
So many who need our help. There, but for the grace of God go any one of us.

Sundays - Holy Communion
8:00 a.m. - Rite I in-person worship in the Chapel, with hymns. This service is not live-streamed.

10:00 a.m. - Rite II in-person worship in the main church with music. Live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube, and available for watching later.

Please contact Kristina Pelá to arrange for a Lay Eucharistic Minister to safely bring you communion.

Yoga with Jill!
Jill is recovering well from surgery—please continue to pray for her healing. She is currently teaching on Wednesdays in the Boardroom at 9:00, via Zoom.
A spiritual mind and body practice!
  • Mondays 11:15am - 1:00pm - Level 1/2 Hatha Yoga
  • Wednesdays 9:00-10:30am Level 1 Gentle Yoga
Parish Hall. No set fees - classes are free-will offering. Questions? Jill Fenske

Thursdays from 9:30-10:30am in our church sanctuary; masks optional. Please join us for meditation, followed by a time of conversation.
Contact - Susie Zimmerman
Coffee Hour Ministry
To volunteer to help one week, see the sign-up sheet at Sunday coffee hour.
Sunday School

Bring your children to Sunday School for our wonderful Montessori-based, Godly Play curriculum.
Godly Play makes meaning through story, wonder, and play. Nurturing spiritual lives by honoring the centrality, competency, and capacity of children. You and your children will be blessed by these teachings.
Remember - the Parish Directory is Online
Need someone's email, or even map directions to their home?
The password is Romans12:4-5
Bookmark the link on your phone or computer and let your browser save the password and you will always be up to date with information!
In a later email we will tell you how to access the Member Portal so you can edit details of your own listing.
Need Help of Any Kind?
Physical, Spiritual, Psychological, or Material?

We are here to do our best to help you with whatever you may need. We know circumstances can be difficult at any time. For help of any kind, or just a phone call, please email or call Jason+.

Enews Submission Deadline: 3:00 pm Wednesdays
Enews is sent weekly on Thursday afternoons: email Susan with your requests.
Staff Directory
Office main line - 310 375 4617
The Rev. Jason Shelby 310-594-7984 - Rector
Mark Bennett 310-594-7416 - Director of Music
Claire Erbeznik 310-375-4617 - Office Administrator & Receptionist
Susan Marshall 310-594-8427 - Communications Specialist
Elaine Mistele 310-594-8268 - Business Manager

You are not interrupting our work - you ARE our work!