Monday, March 18, 2013

Redeeming St. Patrick's Day!

Today is St. Patrick’s Day and I found it really interesting studying his life and how he prepared for ministry.

Let’s begin by looking at a man who prepared in ministry and was referred to as a “man of the Book”!

In the two surviving documents from Patrick’s own hand – his Confession and the Letter Against the Soldiers of Coroticus – Patrick knew the Bible thoroughly, used it faithfully, and trusted it implicitly for every area of life - over 100 quotations, references, allusions, or parallels to passages of the Word of God!

Today is St. Patrick’s Day and for the most part this day is associated with everything green and a party mentality. The Chicago River turns an incredible color of green today thanks to a dye that was used to detect leaks into the river in ’61.  They turn the river green in honor of this day.  However, if we are to truly do justice to this day, it would be right to learn more about the life of the man himself who is thought of as dying on this day.

At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. (There is some dispute over where this captivity took place. During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to God for solace, becoming a devout Christian.

It was during that time of captivity and preparation that he had a dream of seeing the Irish people to come to faith in Christ. 

St. Patrick had a VISION

After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice—which he believed to be God's—spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.

After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation—an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to see others come to Christ.

St. Patrick had a MISSION

Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross and the most memorable being that he used the three leafed clover as an illustration of the Christian holy trinity.  His mission was to move the Irish from a nature-based pagan religion ( a worship of nature) to a worship of the true God.

Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.  St. Patrick!

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