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St Patrick's Day 2018 Posted 3.17.2017

On Friday, we pulled out something green to wear.  A little something.  Maybe we ate corned beef.  Or maybe we wore something orange.  It doesn’t matter, St. Patrick’s Day is about leprechauns and four leaf clovers and green beer and walking sticks that grow into a living tree.  But Patrick himself, has nothing to do with all of that.  Nothing.  The legends are interesting, but they are legends nonetheless.

 

Patrick was born in Scotland in 385.  We don’t know too much about people born way back then so they are hard to study.  But that’s not true about him.  Patrick is hard to study because so much has been written about him over the years that it is tough to separate fact from fiction. 

 

He was captured at age 16 by Irish pirates and enslaved in Ireland. During those six years, he converted to Christianity and gained a reputation as an evangelist for Christianity.

 

Twenty-five years after fleeing his Irish master, Patrick returned to the place of his bondage.  He did not return as a bitter man, but as a missionary eager to convert the Irish.  He traveled throughout all of Ireland to preach to pagans and instruct believers.  He brought a new way of life to a society bent on war and paganism. 

 

He once wrote, “Daily I expect to be murdered or betrayed or reduced to slavery if the occasion arises.  But I fear nothing, because of the promises of heaven.”  He preached in what was considered the end of earth, a pioneering missionary to a forgotten people.

 

One writer put it this way: “Patrick entered an Ireland full of paganism and idol worship.  But just a few short decades after Patrick arrived, a healthy, Christ-honoring church was thriving.  The Irish church was so strong that in the centuries to come it would send missionaries to evangelize much of continental Europe.”

 

Maybe next year you won’t allow the modern customs of St. Patrick’s Day to rob the lessons of faith. Patrick lived in a way that brought honor to God.  His devotion and resolute obedience offer examples for us today as followers of Jesus.  He stood in the face of great challenges yet did not waver.  He shared the Gospel in places that had never heard of Jesus.  It seems to me we could use a little of his fifth-century zeal to spark our mission in the world today.

 

His example to sharing the Gospel should be piece in my motivational repertoire.  So maybe next year wear some orange.  Why orange?  After 1798, the color of green was closely associated with Roman Catholicism and orange with Protestantism—after William of Orange, the Protestant king. And if you wear something orange, don’t use the holiday as an excuse to party and eat. Instead, remind yourself of the evangelical zeal of this man who lived so long ago.  He was a man of forgiveness, who put the Gospel at the center of his life and took risks t share it.  He made Jesus Christ the central focus of everything.  Even though he’s never been canonized by the church of Rome, he does light our path with his faith.  And faithfulness.

 

 


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