St George's Day Reflection


St George's Day Reflection by the Dean of Gloucester

I’ve wanted to sort out the Deanery loft for ages. Lockdown has provided that opportunity. I know….it’s as exciting as it gets when not on another conference call. However yesterday, and in timely fashion, I came across a long lost icon that I have been looking for since coming to Gloucester now nearly nine years ago. It is an icon of St George, bought on my first visit to Greece over thirty years ago.

St George, patron of England (and most other places), is pictured in inaccurate medieval splendour on his white charger, defeating the dragon. This romantic portrayal has inspired many generations and communities as a classic battle between good and evil. In reality, George was most famous for his Christian faith and what it cost him as a martyr. He was dragged through the streets by horses but would not renounce his Christian faith and so was beheaded.

Defeating the dragon of coronavirus is the task of this generation, and sadly, it is costing the lives of many. In particular, the sacrifice of those health workers who give of themselves selflessly is a humbling inspiration to us all, and must never be forgotten. In time, we will want to thank them all appropriately in the cathedral. For now, the Tower of Gloucester Cathedral is lit blue in support of the NHS.

Thursday is St George’s Day. The Cathedral is closed but the cross of St George will fly from the South Porch as usual. Prayers will be said. And at 8pm, we shall come out onto our thresholds and clap, and say thank you to those who save us in our day. Among others, I add my voice that the members of the NHS, all of them from cleaner to consultant, should be awarded the George Cross in their corporate capacity as a life-saving service to the nation. That would give meaning to our applause.

Almighty God,
We have been taught by the legend of St George
to fight against dragons and to rescue the helpless.
Deliver us, by the truth of the gospel,
from that great dragon who leads the whole world astray.
Free us from our slavery to sin and death
And grant that your light may dawn again on this nation of England.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Very Revd Stephen Lake.

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