Bishop Philip apologised for what might be considered a ‘staggering lack of imagination’ when he said what he really wanted to talk about at the Thanksgiving Service for those being awarded the Cross of St Piran, was the Cross of St Piran. In that order.

Seventeen people honoured from across Cornwall

Seventeen people, from across Cornwall, were honoured on Sunday March 8th, 2020, with the Cross of St Piran for their extraordinary services to their churches and communities. From an ex-commando working with sufferers of PTSD, to an RNLI volunteer, to churchwardens, bell-ringers and church-family members who quietly serve in the background. All of them, like the very first Celtic crosses set up across Cornwall, are waymarkers. As Bishop Philip said, “Not just to show the way physically and geographically but spiritually too, proclaiming the one who said Himself that He is the way the truth and the life.”

The strangeness of the cross

Bishop Philip talked about the ‘strangeness of the cross’ and how we should never take it for granted. Isaiah, 53:1-6, anticipates how Jesus came but was rejected and despised, yet took up our pain and suffering by dying on the cross. St Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, (1:22): declares the cross a stumbling block, foolishness to those that don’t believe.

And the wonder

How, Bishop Philip asked, can the cross, a symbol of brutal execution, be so central to Christian faith? Strange indeed. But wonderful too, when looking at its anticipated significance in Isaiah, that Jesus Christ was indeed crushed for our iniquities; and the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

It was that wonder that prompted St Piran, and all the other Celtic saints, to make their epic journeys, set up their crosses and ministries and literally stop people in their tracks. To tell the story of the cross, its sacrifice and love, and signpost the way to peace. We can’t continue that work by putting up new crosses, but by representing those crosses instead. Being waymarkers by our actions, how we care for one another, show God’s love and the transforming power of the cross of Christ.

Honouring St Piran and the awards given in is name

As Bishop Philip said, the best way we can honour St Piran and those given awards in his name, is to follow their example. “To see them as waymarkers, to allow them to point us to Christ, that we in our turn may show many others the way to him. And may we indeed do just that, to the glory of him who is indeed the way, the truth and the life.”

Bishop Philip’s full sermon