Sermon for St. George’s day May 3, 1981
We are keeping this week the feast of St. George, the patron saint of this country, and this is why I want to say a few words in English instead of preaching in Russian as I always do.
When you look at an icon of St. George you see a man who had the courage, the daring, to confront evil not for his own sake, but for the sake of something greater than he, to confront it face to face at the cost, the possible cost, of his own life. The icons of St. George show us the great knight fighting the dragon, while at the gate of her palace the maiden whom he wishes to save, stands waiting either for his victory or her shame and death. Each of us has got within himself something of which this pure maiden could be a symbol: our integrity, our purity, our uprightness, our wholeness and so many other things that make us akin to the living God. And against all these things the powers of evil are unleashed like the dragon of the icon, ready to devour all this beauty so that nothing is left but death, destruction and defeat – not for us alone, but for God. And within each of us there is the greatness and the generosity, the noble spirit of knighthood that can be aroused to fight for all that is pure, all that is noble, all that is great, both for the sake of its own beauty and for the sake of the Lord to whom it belongs as a bride belongs to the beloved and pure bridegroom.
This image of St. George is a call to all of us: evil is rife, evil is not only rampant around us, it is within us, trying to conquer all beauty and wholeness, and we are called to enter into this fight, to fight that evil be defeated, not only for our own sake, not only for God's sake, but also for the sake of all those whom evil may poison and destroy. Let us look at this icon, mentally at least if we have not got one actually, in the course of this week and ask ourselves: what is there in us which is standing at the door of the king's palace, at the gates of the Kingdom of God, ready to enter it if only it be freed from the fetters to which evil has subjected it, if only it would be safe from the destruction which evil is attempting to cast upon it. Let us also look at the evil in us and take a stand like the good knight St. George did, and whether it costs us our life, or whether it costs the defeat of evil, let us enter into the arena, let us fight, and may all that is holy, all that is beautiful, great and noble in us be protected, saved, freed, and enter into the palace, into the Kingdom of the living God who is waiting for us with so much love, so much faith, with a hope unshaken. Amen.