Sunday, 19 April 2015

St George the brave

Today at both churches we had services for St George's Day.

At St James I said: 'I regret to say that St George was not a Bermondsey boy. He was not even an English lad. He was a Greek, a Christian, a Roman soldier and a martyr for his Faith.

'He was born sometime between the year 275 and 285. In the year 303 life became very difficult for Christians in the Roman Army. The Emperor issued an edict that all soldiers must worship the Roman gods.'

'George refused.' 

'In front of his fellow soldiers George declared that he was a Christian and worshipped Jesus Christ and him alone.'

'The Emperor who appreciated George’s military prowess attempted to persuade George to relent and even offered him gifts of land and slaves if he would but worship the gods of the Romans.'

'But George stood steadfast and, after horrible torture, he was beheaded by the Romans on April 23rd 303. Before his execution George gave all his wealth to the poor. Afterwards a pagan priest and the Empress Alexandra herself, who had witnessed George’s sufferings for his faith, became Christians themselves.

''Since year 303 George has been honoured as a martyr, a brave soldier and servant of Jesus Christ. The Church remembers him on the day he died, 23rd April, St George’s Day, the day we remember him in England as the Patron Saint of our nation.'

'But what about the dragon?,' I asked. 'That bit' I said'  seems to be a myth, a legend, but….. in the book of Revelation, our first reading, the Devil is portrayed as a Dragon. There he is triumphantly defeated.'

'Like his master, Jesus Christ, George, battled with temptations thrown at him by the Devil. Like his master, the Lord Jesus, he didn’t give in to them, and in his martyr’s death, George really did defeat the dragon that wanted him to deny his Lord. '

'George in his own life learnt the truth of our second reading where Jesus say to his disciples:

 “If the world hates you, just remember that it has hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you as its own. But I chose you from this world, and you do not belong to it; that is why the world hates you.  Remember what I told you: ‘Slaves are not greater than their master.’ If people persecuted me, they will persecute you too; 

I went on to say that here living in England, we have a privilege that St George could only dream of. 

We get to choose the government. To vote, and to vote wisely for the good of the community and the good of the nation, is both a great privilege and a great responsibility.

Later, five members of the congregation, led us in these prayers, interspersed with the sung response, Come all ye people, come and praise your maker:

For our nation, for the Queen, for Parliamentary democracy, and the rule of law, we give thanks to the Lord
For our local council, for schools, community organisations, and local businesses, we give thanks to the Lord

For our nation’s Christian heritage, for Christ’s brave saints and martyrs of every tribe and nation, we give thanks to the Lord

For this nation at the time of the General Election, for wisdom and discernment for the electorate, for righteousness,  justice and mercy, in our political  life, we pray to the Lord

For people of every nation, that God may bless the peoples of the world, that his kingdom may come, and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we pray to the Lord


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