Saint Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church

1 St. Francis Drive - Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561
From The Rector

The Rev.
Tim Backus

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,

This past Wednesday during our weekly noon Eucharist, we celebrated the special feast day of two of the most prominent leaders of the early church – St. Peter and St. Paul. 

In our Christian calendar, both St. Peter (Jan 18th) and St. Paul (Jan 25th) have their own individual feast days of commemoration. An important question worth noting, especially since they are prominent figures and have their 
own individual days of commemoration, is why do we also commemorate Peter and Paul together on the same day (June 29th)? 

Even though both of these Saints have their individual days of commemoration, this specific day in which we honor both Peter and Paul together, is of extreme significance. We commemorate these two saints together on June 29th in observance of the tradition of the Church that both of these men died as martyrs in Rome during the persecution under Nero in 64 A.D. 

And this is key: Both of these men died as martyrs under the same Lord. Both preached the Gospel of Jesus. HOWEVER…. Peter and Paul were not always on the same page. In a sense, the same Gospel of Christ was not without difference. In fact, these two faithful followers had major disagreements. One only has to go so far as to read Galatians 2:11-21 about their interaction over the relationship between Jews and Gentiles. Ever since the beginning of the Jesus movement, even the most faithful, committed followers, such as Peter and Paul, did not agree, believe, or preach the same way. These two men died under the same Lord under the same Gospel, and their message was not always the same. 

Since the beginning of Christianity, faithful followers who preached the Gospel were not always in agreement. There was difference of understanding since the very beginning. The reason why this is so important, and one of the reasons why we celebrate these two great saints on the same day, is because they lived and died for the same cause and the same Gospel, yet did so with difference. A common phrase that comes to mind, is “They are in the same book, yet on different pages.” 

Disagreement is good. Variation is important. And even within difference and variation, we can preach the same Gospel. We learn this from Peter and Paul. For these two prominent figures, their common commitment to Christ and proclamation of the Gospel was much stronger than their differences. Both of these men carried out the mission of Christ, yet they did so in difference. 

Unity is not uniformity. Unfortunately, as Christians, we often get hung up on our differences and forget that we are still preaching the same Gospel. Like Peter and Paul, we can follow their example by preachingn the same Gospel through difference.

With the love of Christ,