So..Burger King is giving away green ketchup for St. Patrick's Day this year. Unfortunately, it will not be the only thing that turns green for this much misunderstood day of remembrance. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the color green (my favorite basketball team has always been the Celtics), but I do get a little sad when I see that this holiday has become more about drinking green beer than remembering the person and the example of St. Patrick. Do we even know who the real St. Patrick is? A couple of facts about Patrick that you might not know:
- Patrick was a victim of Human Trafficking. As an adolescence he was kidnapped from his English village by "cold calculating" slave raiders from Ireland that "saw there cargo not as humans but as merchandise". (quotes from Phillip Freeman's seminal work "St. Patrick of Ireland"). Couldn't we use the real story of Patrick to bring attention to the current day tragedy of human trafficking and the fact that over 27 million are still slaves? Patrick would eventually escape his captures and make it back to England as a young man.
- Patrick was not actually Irish, but English. As could be deduced from above, Patrick was actually an Englishman, taken to Ireland as a slave. This would not be his only trip to Ireland however, and we should see that even though he wasn't Irish by descent, he loved the Irish as his own.
- Patrick was a missionary of the Gospel. In escaping his captors in Ireland, Patrick felt a strong call from God to return to the place of his enslavement and to the people who had enslaved him and preach the love of Christ. How many of us would return love to those who only showed us evil and pain.
- Patrick was an Evangelistic Innovator. In his book, "The Celtic Way of Evangelism", Chuck Hunter lays out how Patrick evangelized by forming communities...communities that cared for each other, that provided jobs and resources for each other, and yet were not closed off, but inviting. Through inviting the Irish to participate in everyday life with the Christian community the Irish were able to see their love for Christ and love for them. He was an innovator of true lifestyle evangelism.
- Patrick preached the "whole" gospel. In his time as a sent missionary to Ireland, God used him to bring thousands and thousands to faith in Christ. However Patrick knew that this faith shouldn't and couldn't just affect the spiritual part of a person, but the physical, social, financial, etc. He cared for the poor, started charitable efforts, helped create communities that provided jobs, looking out for the least the last and the lost. He took seriously the call to "feed the sheep".
So this St. Patrick day, if you are going to drink a green beer or wear a "kiss me I'm Irish" t-shirt, it is OK...but take a few moments and thank God for the man Patrick who left such a great Gospel Legacy...for Ireland, the Irish people, the church, and the world, and pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit, you can follow the example. Thank you God for Patrick.
From St. Patricks Breastplate prayer:
Christ be with me, Christ 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 in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.