Friday, April 23, 2010

Celebrating St George

It's St George's Day. For some bizzare reason a range of English people, some with questionable attitudes to foreigners and precious little interest in the Christian faith, will be celebrating the life of a Middle Eastern Roman soldier martyred for his faith under Diocletian for refusing to worship the emperor.

One suspects that the recent revival in the cult of St George - it was a major feast in medieval and early modern England - has something to do with the surging confidence of Welsh and Scottish people in the wake of devolution and the perenial self-awareness of Irish people who have managed to get their saint's festival - St Patrick's Day - celebrated by any and everybody across the globe.

There's a parade featuring St George in the City of London today for the first time since 1585. According to stgeorgesday.com (yes, our saint has his own website featuring Ian Botham on the home page!) over a million of us think we should have the day off to celebrate.

I'm preparing for Sunday at the moment - only one sermon as I've just talked to my morning preacher who has made it back from the States! I am focusing on how knowing the power of the resurrection enables us to live a cruciform life. I know nothing of St George - I suspect most of what we know is legend and rumour - but if he died for his faith, standing against an imperial ideology that sought the worship of its citizens, then he'd grasped what Paul is saying in Philippians 3:1-4:1 and especially v10.

In this sublime piece of rhetoric, Paul shows how the cruciform life of Jesus is the model for the lives of his disciples. Paul shows how it's working out in his life and urges us to work it out in ours. And it hinges on knowing the power of Jesus' resurrection. For only that power enables us to leave our old lives and press on into the future that God has for us. And only that power enables us to share the sufferings of Jesus in our daily lives - whatever those sufferings might be.

If those who want to celebrate St George's Day want to celebrate this, pass me a banner and count me in.

1 comment:

John Smith said...

I like the logic here - blame the Welsh and the Scots for the growing English nationalism.

Simon Raven says that Englishness meant "gentle manners, cricket, civility between the classes, lack of malice towards others, fair dealing with women, and fair dealing with enemies."

But I think Jeremy Paxman puts is better when he describes the English as having "a quizzical detachment, tolerance, common sense, bloody-mindedness, willingness to compromise, [a] deeply political sense of themselves [and above all a] sense of 'I know my rights'".

Happy St George's Day!