Dear Risen Lord disciples:
Wednesday this week is St. Patrick’s Day. In my hometown of Chicago, (at least pre-Covid), it was a really big deal. The Chicago river gets dyed bright green and pub crawls, corned beef and cabbage, and green beer flow in abundance.
Now, don’t get me wrong - this German guy is glad to “be Irish” for a day and is not against a wee bit of fun and tomfoolery in moderation. But it’s also sad that we’ve lost sight of who St. Patrick really was, and what the real St. Patrick did that made him the patron Saint of Ireland.
Of course, St. Patrick is often the stuff of fanciful lore (like driving snakes out of Ireland), but the real Patrick was born in 389, in either Scotland or Roman Britain, the son of a deacon. Irish raiders invaded his homeland and took him prisoner at the age of 16. Patrick was enslaved in Ireland for the next 6 years before he escaped and fled back home. He later confessed that as a youth he had turned away from God, but it was during his slavery that he turned to fervent daily prayer and renewed his faith. Home again in Britain, he spent years in a monastery strengthening his relationship with God.
Now in his 40’s and ordained as a priest, Patrick “heard” a voice calling him to return to Ireland, this time as a missionary. Tirelessly preaching throughout the pagan land, he was so successful that Ireland became known as the Isle of Saints. He established the first Christian church in Ireland and is said to have planted over 300 more. He was also responsible for sending out many of his converts to Christianity out as missionaries to other countries.
Legend credits St. Patrick with using a shamrock, a three-leafed plant common to Ireland, to teach the Irish about the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. He pointed to each leaf as the Christian teaching of God being three persons in one God. That is why shamrocks are the official symbol of St. Patrick’s Day.
So go ahead and have fun with leprechauns and “Kiss me, I’m Irish” hats. But let’s not forget what St. Patrick’s Day is really all about. And let’s not forget the man, Patrick, who came preaching the Gospel of Jesus to the hauntingly beautiful isle of Ireland. Here’s “The Breastplate,” St. Patrick’s poem of faith and trust in God: “Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”
Be well, friends. You are loved.
Pastor Dave Schreiber
I will be out of town from March 20th – 30th and in a very spotty cell service area.
Pastor John Hawkins, Risen Lord member, will be available for any emergencies.
His cell number is 317-224-6680