Let me start by asking a question. Is there anybody you consider to be a hero? It doesn’t need to be someone famous, although it might be. I think, although I am slightly guessing, heroes are afforded their status based on two criteria: what they do, or achieve and just as importantly how they achieve it. Sadly, I suspect that in today’s culture, many are more interested in what we might think of as ‘mere achievement’ rather than the character of the person themself.
A hero for me is St Lawrence, whom the Church remembers on the 8th August and to whom the chapel at Threshers, in Crediton, is dedicated. St Lawrence (or Laurence) was one of the seven deacons of Rome who served in that city and was martyred on a gridiron on the 10th August in the year 258.
I think it’s fair to say that Lawrence quickly became a hero to the early church and he is the patron saint of many churches around the world. When we speak of St Lawrence, I often think of Salisbury Cathedral (in which I was ordained as both deacon and priest) because there is a chapel dedicated to him there. The ancient European Cathedrals of Genoa and Prague are dedicated to St. Lawrence. as is our chapel here in Crediton… so we are in good company!
His martyrdom got in the way because he understood what the gospel is all about. He knew that you cannot serve two masters, you either serve God, by following in the footsteps of Jesus, or you serve yourself. He understood that God cares for the poor, the weak and the marginalised. He understood that the more prosperous members of society, of which he was a member, have an ethical responsibility to use their assets judiciously. He understood a basic Christian truth:
That assets should be used to help people, rather than people being used to build assets.