The Feast of St George - Reflection

Once upon a time there was a magical dragon. He called down all the powers of Hell. And stood above a lake of burning fire.And there was a knight. A brave knight who came to battle the dragon. He fought bravely, swinging his sword. But the dragon was powerful, forcing him to the edge of the lake of fire. But with determination, and some supernatural help, he throws his sword deep into the dragon’s heart. The dragon squeals and makes one last lunge toward the brave knight. But the brave knight side steps the dragon, and the dragon plunges to his eternal death in the lake of fire. I am of course talking about, Prince Philip in Sleeping Beauty. He triumphed over the dragon by the sheer determination of his sword. But what if to defeat the dragon, the sword had to be turned on himself? What if the way to triumph over the dragon, was to give his own life? It’s not an idea I can imagine Hollywood could accept. But that’s exactly what we see in the life of St George. And St George was following in the footsteps of his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

That’s what we saw in our reading from Revelation. The dragon is defeated. How? Verse 11 said: 'They triumphed over [the dragon] by the blood of the Lamb'. The dragon is defeated by the blood of the Lamb. One might ask, how does the blood of Jesus defeat the dragon? The dragon is a reference to Satan. The Lamb a reference to Jesus. The blood a reference to Jesus’ death on the Cross. And this is how the death of Jesus defeat Satan. His disarms his only real power. Yes, Satan can destroy our bodies. But remember Jesus’ words: 'Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.' Satan really only has one good attack. And that power is a borrowed power. He turns the justice of God against us by tempting us to sin, and so sends us to Hell. Hell is not a place Satan rules, it is his prison. And he is intent on taking as many prison mates with him as he possibly can. He's like a naughty school kid. The one who goads you into being naughty, and then tells the teacher on you. ‘God, God, we’ve got another sinner over here. Punish him. Send her to Hell.’ But what if that punishment was paid for. What if when we sin, there was forgiveness? Where then would Satan’s power be? And that is how Jesus triumphed over Satan at the Cross. He suffered the justice of God for the sins we have committed. And so now when we sin and Satan shouts: ‘God, God, we’ve got another sinner over here. Punish him. Send her to Hell.’ God replies to Satan: ‘His sin has been paid for by my Son. She goes to Heaven by the blood of the Lamb.’ Satan’s only real power to cast people into Hell, is disarmed. He is defeated by the blood of the Lamb. And St George knew that. He was a martyr. He gave his life for Christ during one of the most brutal crackdowns on Christianity. It came to be known as the Great Persecution.


In the 4th Century, the Roman Emperor decided all churches be demolished and all Bibles burned with fire. Christians who refused to renounce Christ were to be tortured and killed. Remember, Jesus said in our first reading: 'If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first'. St George was in the army, the place the persecutions first started. He was a man who gave his goods to the poor. But this was not enough to save him. He was put under persecution and sentenced to the court. But St George refused to do anything other than confess Christ. And so, he was put to the sword. And his blood ran like that of his Lord. St George knew that Christ’s people triumph over the schemes of Satan by the blood of the Lamb. Remember what St Paul said in our reading: 'Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus'. St George was a good soldier of Christ, because he joined in with Christ’s sufferings.


In the Middle Ages, St George became personified as the ideal knight. Most famously he was said to have slayed a dragon. But they never lost sight of his willingness to die for his Lord. The dragon he slays is Satan. And his killing of the dragon in the story is a metaphor for how he gave his life so that he might defeat the dragon through the blood of Christ. Historians are unclear about why a red cross on a white background was chosen to be St George’s flag. But it makes a nice symbol. Red is the colour of sacrifice, blood given in battle. White the symbol of purity and innocence. Christ was pure white, innocent, never sinned. And yet in battle with the dragon, he spilt his blood in sacrifice, staining his innocence with our sins. Triumphing over the dragon by his innocent blood. And now he calls us to join with him in suffering. Because we too triumph over the dragon by the blood of the Lamb.

Remember our reading from Revelation? 'They triumphed over [the dragon] by the blood of the Lamb.' We triumph over the dragon by the blood of the Lamb. Through our witness and our martyrdom. The eagle eyed among you will have noticed that I have only been reading half of that verse. Here is the full verse:'They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death'. St George triumphed over the dragon by testifying that he belonged to Jesus. He did not love his own life so much as to shrink from death. He feared the one who could cast his soul into Hell. And loved him, because of the blood of the Lamb. And so, he stood strong in the face of death, the face of the dragon, and confessed Christ, giving his very life for his Saviour, as his Saviour had done for him.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road for us. I’m from Leyland, so correct me if I’m wrong. But I cannot imagine the nice people of Chorley are rounding up Christians and handing them over to the authorities so they might be executed. I think there’s about the same number of people here as there were last week. But the devil has other tricks to make you deny Christ. In places like North Korea, he has the government round them up and kill them. But in England, he calls you to live for self rather than die for self. To die to Christ rather than live for Christ. Remember what our Lord said after Peter denied his walk to the Cross: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me'. To take up your Cross and deny self is to die to self and live for Christ. It is to deny what I want when it conflicts with how Jesus has called us to live. What happens when comfort and convenience conflict with the calls of Christ. What happens when awkwardness and fear of man can only be alleviated by denying Christ? What happens when children’s sport or family gatherings demand our time on Sunday? Do we deny the comfort and convenience of yielding to family pressure? Do we take up our Cross and ensure our families hear the word of God in the Bible and see it in the Sacrament? Or do we slowly stop attending church? Never going cold turkey. No, we lower our attendance at first. Missing a Sunday here or there. But as the children get older, granny gets more demanding, we sacrifice Jesus rather than ourselves. And that is hard. It will mean difficult conversations. Upsetting family members. But if St George can give his life for Christ in the face of persecution. Surely, we can suffer frosty relations? Remember what Jesus said after calling us to take up our Cross? 'If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels'. As St Paul said in our reading: 'If we died with [Christ], we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us.' Will we hear the warning of Christ this morning? St George gave his life for Christ. He triumphed over the dragon by dying. Just as Jesus triumphing over Satan by dying. And so, the word of God urges us this morning: Join St George in his triumphant suffering, by taking up your Cross and living for Christ. Amen. (from Fr Lloyd)