Sermon: Martyrs of New Guinea

I confess to being a fan of the movie.  I’ll give just about any movie one chance, but if I find one that I really like, then like some three-year-old, I will watch it over and over.  Keeping the Faith.  Harry Potter.  The Matrix.  Even, The Devil Wears Prada.  However, when I need a little humor and a bit of action, I will reach for A Knight’s Tale.  There’s jousting and sword play.  A beautiful princess and an evil Count.  Our hero, William Thatcher – who goes by the fake name Ulrich, grew up very poor, but decides to follow the advice of his father and changes his stars.  Although illegal, he takes on the role of a knight and has his grand adventure.  He even has a herald and it turns out to be none other than an aspiring young author – Geoffrey Chaucer.

Chaucer’s primary role is to introduce William Thatcher at the jousting tournaments.  As you can imagine, they are quite extravagant.  Concluding one particular introduction he states, “And so without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, I give to you, the seeker of serenity, the protector of Italian virginity, the enforcer of our Lord God, the one, the only, Sir Ulllrrrich von Lichtenstein!”

So, what does this have to do with anything today?  At one of the final jousting matches, Chaucer once again introduces Ulrich and he begins by saying, “My lords, my ladies, and everybody else here not sitting on a cushion!”  …and everybody else here not sitting on a cushion.  All you common people who most won’t remember.  Faces in the crowd.

Think about it for a second.  When you consider Queen Elizabeth I, you know her father, Henry VIII and perhaps her brother and sister, but do you know who it was that brought up her breakfast each morning?  No and you never will, but that doesn’t mean that this person was of so little insignificance as to be forgotten.  And, in the eyes of God, this server of breakfast is an equal to the Queen of England.  The Apostle Paul states, “there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”  Or, as Chaucer said in A Knight’s Tale, we “are all equally blessed.”

A few weeks ago we celebrated the life of that great Saint, Bartholomew.  He was the one who was martyred by being flayed alive.  I like to refer to Saints like this as Capital “S” Saints.  Saint Bartholomew.  St. Luke.  Etc.  Today, however, we do not celebrate one of those capital “S” saints, instead the ones we celebrate today are known simply as the Martyrs of New Guinea, which consisted of eight missionaries and two natives – no names given, who were put to death because of their faith during World War II.  Common people.  Faces in the crowd.  Yet Jesus says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”  Of those eight nameless missionaries and common natives, “not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight.”  “Christ is all, and is in all.”  They are as equally blessed as those Saints we know by name and who are depicted in stained glassed windows.

The word “saint,” with a capital “S” may never appear before our names.  We may never  even have a day set aside for us like the Martyrs of New Guinea, but we also are as equally blessed as they, for as Christ was in them, He is in us.

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