More than just green beer?
Don’t get me wrong, we like a good can of beer every now and then but really, is this what we’ve boiled St. Patrick’s day down too? A glass of green beer?
St. Patricks day is actually a Christian holiday(shocking I know!). Blows my mind how it’s become nothing more than another opportunity to hit the bars. I’ll be honest, for many years growing up, I really had no idea what it meant other then you wore green to school. But it’s truly been captivating and heart-pricking to discover the true meaning to a holiday that we celebrate year after year. And, rightly so. Celebrated it should be!
We plan on wearing green (Ashtyn already has her green outfit picked out for tomorrow), and eating Irish Soda bread, and maybe even hitting a parade downtown….but we also plan on spending the morning reading a biography on St. Patrick, stopping to thank God for the person he was and HIS work in this man’s life. We will do a couple of picture studies of St. Patrick and maybe even some copy work revolving around him. Here’s a little something to stir your mind and hopefully to help you gain a true appreciation for a man who was more than a leprechaun but, instead, who is said to be “the greatest missionary of all time.”
The Real St. Patrick
By Charles Mack, Campus Crusade for Christ
Most American Christians are unaware of the true story of St. Patrick. He was one of
the greatest missionaries of all time, evangelizing all of Ireland, and then training up
leaders who went to a Europe that had fallen into the Dark Ages after the collapse of the
Roman Empire. Patrick’s disciples re-evangelized all of Europe. This certainly gives us
a REAL reason to celebrate this Saturday.
Born in 389 in England, Magonus Sucatus Patricius expressed little interest in God as a
child. God, however, had big plans for this son of a deacon and grandson of a priest. In
405 Irish raiders attacked Wales, searching for plunder and captives. Sixteen-year-old
Patrick and hundreds of others were dragged aboard ships. Once in port in Ireland, the
marauders herded the captives off the boats to the slave market. A man named Milchu
bought Patrick. While other boys his age learned Latin, he tended sheep.
During his captivity, Patrick embraced a personal faith. “And there the Lord opened the
sense of my unbelief,” he said, “that I might at last remember my sins and be converted
with all my heart to the Lord my God.” After six years of slavery, Patrick dreamt that a
ship lay waiting in port to take him home. Now 22, he ran away from Milchu, made his
way to the ship and eventually returned to Britain.
Soon after his reunion with his family, Patrick had his most famous vision. He saw a man
walking toward him over a sea. The man held out a letter, the first words of which were,
“The voice of the Irish.” Then, as if from all around, Patrick heard the cries of those he
had come to know during his Irish captivity. “We beseech thee holy youth,” they
pleaded, “to come and walk once more amongst us.” Taking this as a call from God to
bring the gospel to his former captors, Patrick left Britain-this time of his own volition-to
start the process that ultimately resulted in appointment as Bishop to Ireland.
Around 432 Patrick again set foot on Irish soil. “He gathered people around him in the
open fields and preached Christ to them,” writes biographer Elgin Moyer. “His burning
zeal, deep sincerity and gentleness of manner won peasants and nobility alike.” Milchu,
his former slave master, was one of his first converts. Patrick knew from his years of
slavery that if he could win tribal chieftains to Christ, the rest of the tribe would follow.
Through there is no proof of this, legend says that Patrick used a shamrock to explain
the Trinity to one of these local lords. Not surprisingly, he met with substantial
opposition from the druid magician-priests of Celtic Ireland. Legend says that Patrick
battled them using what we would now call “power encounters.” There are stories of him
raising the dead and causing the earth to swallow up his enemies.
Although he was painfully aware of his poor Latin and rusticity, tradition has it that
Patrick founded hundreds of churches, monasteries, and schools, and baptized 100,000
converts. After nearly 30 years of ministry, he retired to the Irish village of Saul where
he wrote his Confession and, on March 17th, 461, died.
When the dust settled from the collapse of the Roman Empire, one of the few Christian
communities in the world with any vitality was the Irish church, founded by Patrick. The
task of re-evangelizing England and parts of continental Europe fell to the Christians of Ireland. David Burnett, author of Dawning of the Pagan Moon writes that “while Europe was entering its Dark Ages the Celtic church began to send out its most adventurous as missionaries.” The most famous of these,
Columba, settled on the small island of Iona with twelve companions. The monastery
they founded became the center of missions to Scotland. These missions eventually moved south to the rest of England.
Patrick is no leprechaun. He stands in history as the apostle to Ireland, just as Paul was
an apostle. This March 17th, let’s not forget the real Patrick. Kidnapped from his home
and sold as a slave. He was called by God to take the name of Jesus and a hearty dose
of forgiveness to his former captors. Used of God to start hundreds of churches and
lead thousands of people to Christ. “Is it my own doing that I have holy mercy on the
people who once took me captive?” said Patrick. “What I am I have received from God.
And so I live among barbarians a stranger and exile for the love of God.”
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