Fr. Tim’s View from the Vicarage – 23rd April 2020 – St George’s Day

Alleluia!, Christ is Risen. He is risen indeed, alleluia!

Dear Parish Friends, today, as you will all probably realise is St George’s Day.

Whenever we have children visiting from our local Schools, we always start out tour of the church by the font, and they are immediately transfixed by our glorious West Window – made by Leonard Walker in 1926 and commissioned partly in honour of the first Vicar of St Peter’s, Henry Shildrick (1897 – 1926), and also in remembrance of those from the Parish who died in the First World War, and whose names are inscribed on the wooden memorial below the window.

When I ask the children who the people are in the window, they usually see Jesus, and Mary, his Mother, and maybe St Peter with his keys, but almost all of them also know that the character on the extreme right is St George – as in the detail shown here. They see his lance as he vigorously slays the dragon, and some notice the flag just above him – with what we call the Cross of St George, the emblem of England.

I guess one of the reasons he is in this window is the patriotic theme of it as a Memorial to the Fallen, and that he is England’s Patron Saint.

Little is known of the real George, except that he was a Christian who was probably also a soldier, living in Palestine, who was martyred in about the year 304, under the Roman persecutions that raged in those times. Later, the exotic myths grew up about his rescuing of a princess by slaying the dragon. One of the morals of the story seems to be his courage in the face of something truly terrifying, and the fact that he wanted all to acknowledge Christ as Saviour, as he did. Probably, the kernel of truth in his story is that he faced a martyr’s death rather than renounce his faith.

George (the real plus the imaginary) was not always England’s Patron Saint – in fact he supplanted Edward the Confessor (a real Christian King of England) only after returning soldiers from the Crusades enthusiastically brought back their devotion to him, aided by him as they felt themselves to have been in their military endeavours.

In a way, I feel this ambiguity feels typically English, and should not stop those of us who identify as English from celebrating our special National day – as other Nations of the UK do theirs.

As we look about us in these days of “lockdown” alongside the very real fears and dangers, perhaps something of the spirit of St George – the real man, but also his mythical story – can encourage us to press on. There are so many examples of the wonderful efforts of many on the “frontlines” doing their very best to help others – I mean Care Home and NHS workers, but also our Emergency Services, District Council workers, postal workers, shop workers, delivery drivers, the people who keep our gas, electricity and water supplies going, and many, many others, paid and voluntary who are facing the ‘dragons’ and getting on with the job, with thoughtfulness and kindness. Truly so often the very best of humanity has comes out in this crisis.

 I wish you a Happy St. George’s Day, as we continue to give thanks for all the good that’s happening (often by people doing those “little things” that St David encouraged) and as we pray for all the Nations of the UK, our Continent and World

Alleluia!, Christ is Risen. He is risen indeed, alleluia!

Father Tim     01376 349267