Talk for St George’s Day 2010
I went to see How to Train your Dragon in 3D last week, did anyone else see it over the Easter Holidays?
Did you enjoy it?
For those of you who haven’t seen it I will try not to give too much away but if you are desperate not to know anything about it you can just stick you fingers in your ears and go la la la – that’s what my congregation do most of the time so I won’t be offended.
The best thing about going to see films in 3D these days is that you get to wear groovy shades while sitting in the cinema
That is truly amazing – I can now see everything in slightly darker 3D.
Everyone go like this [Sticks out arms and waves fingers]
[Jumps back in amazement]
That is incredible, it is almost like being there in real life.
Actually 3D technology in cinemas is not new as they have been experimenting with it since the 1950’s and Channel 4 went through a phase of broadcasting films in 3D about 20 years ago. However, back in the old days, you had to wear cardboard specs with bits of red and blue cellophane in them. [Dons old fashioned 3D specs] See, much less cool when compared with these [New specs]. That’s progress for you.
Anyway, I digress.
Back to boring old 2D [Takes off specs].
How to Train your Dragon is set in a Viking village, somewhere in Scandinavia, sometime in the Dark Ages and this village has a problem. It keeps being attacked by swarms of dragons of all different sizes and shapes who keep stealing all the livestock and burning down all the houses.
Because of this rather inconvenient situation everyone in the village has to become good at fighting and killing dragons. The people in the village who are the most respected are the ones who are best at killing dragons and, as you might expect, the chief of the village is the biggest and fiercest of the Vikings who has dispatched the most dragons.
Life in that village has been going on in much the same way for seven generations – the dragons steal the livestock and burn the houses while the Vikings do their best to kill them.
But the Chief of the village has a son called Hiccup and Hiccup is a bit of a disappointment to his Viking dad. Hiccup is not big and strong like the other Viking boys, he is clumsy and uncoordinated and just seems to get in the way and cause trouble for everyone when they are trying to fight off the dragons.
But Hiccup is also very clever and he invents a machine which is designed to capture and bring down the most feared and dangerous of dragons – the Night Fury.
One night, while the village is being attacked, Hiccup fires his new invention at a passing Night Fury and he sees it crash into some nearby woods. Hiccup knows that if he can prove to his father and to the village that he has killed this most feared of creatures that he will prove himself as a Viking, he will win the love of his father and the respect of his village. This is his moment to become a man!
So Hiccup sets off into the woods to find the Night Fury his machine has brought down, to kill it and to bring back proof of what he has done. Eventually he finds the black dragon wrapped up in think ropes and weights and looking as though it is dead – Hiccup draws out his knife to cut out the heart of this beast. At that moment the dragon opens its eyes, they look at each other and Hiccup just can’t bring himself to kill it – despite all the good stuff that would happen to Hiccup if he did, he just can’t do it and, instead, he cuts the ropes and frees the dragon. When asked later why he couldn’t do it Hiccup says that when he looked into the dragon’s eyes he could see that the dragon was just as frightened as him.
That is only the first ten minutes of the film and I won’t give anymore away save to say, that Hiccup and the dragon become friends and this leads eventually to a big change in the relationship between the humans and the dragons. And that was all because they looked each other in the eye and Hiccup was brave enough to defy the culture of his village by having compassion on a fellow scared creature.
Of course the reason I am thinking about dragons at all is because today we are celebrating St. George who is the patron saint of England and is most famed for having slain a dragon, which represented the devil. Of course whether he killed an actual dragon is open to question but what we do know about St George is that he was a soldier in the Roman Army at a time when it was still dangerous to be a Christian, that he fought bravely as a soldier and as a Christian for his faith but that he was eventually killed by one of the Roman emperors when he decided that he did not like Christians. Because of his bravery in sticking up for his faith despite the consequences George was recognised as a saint by the early church and become a patron saint of not only of England but also of Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia.
So on the one hand we have St. George who slayed the dragon of evil and we have Hiccup who refused to slay a dragon, surely we may say, these are opposites – one is a brave soldier and one is a slightly weedy boy.
Actually they both have something very important in common and it is something that they share with the founder of our faith, Jesus Christ. St. George, Hiccup and Jesus all choose to do what, deep down, they knew that they were called to do and they had to do despite what their society expected and despite any personal consequences. Jesus went to the cross for telling people that they had abandoned love and compassion in favour of rule keeping, St. George was martyred for standing up for the faith of Jesus in the face of a pagan emperor and Hiccup risked being despised by his father and his village forever because he had compassion.
Now our world still has plenty of evil that needs brave soldiers of Christ to take a stand and fight despite the personal cost. And so we continue to remember St. George. But we also need to remember that the dragons we fight are not always the obvious ones that society tells us to slay and we need to be brave enough to look into the eyes of apparent enemies, to see that they are not really much different from us below the surface and to have compassion. And for all of us the most important place in which we need to slay evil is in our own hearts – and to do that we need to look to God, to look to Jesus, and to ask for his help, today and always.
If you haven’t already done so, go and see How to Train Your Dragon – but don’t just wear your 3D specs – try seeing it with God Specs too as it will reveal a lot more detail.