Saint Patrick, Shamrocks and the Trinity ©

A year ago I wrote a blog in honor of the great Irish Saint name Patrick. St. Patrick wrote a number famous prayers including one on the Holy Trinity. It opens with the line:

“I rise today in power’s strength, invoking the Trinity,

believing in threeness,

confessing the oneness,

of creation’s Creator.”[1]

I cannot remember who (?), but someone sent me the follow link from a satirical website. I invited you to enjoy it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQLfgaUoQCw&feature=youtu.be

I confess that the best of us are at times theologically confused. Even the sharpest of metaphors and analogies eventually break down. Yet at his heart, St. Patrick reached for the essence of the Christian faith. He was a true champion of Christ. I remind the reader of what I wrote a year ago.

“Captured as a young boy and taken to Ireland as a slave, Patrick lived there for 6 years before miraculously escaping and returning to his native Briton. At age 48 – well past the life expectancy in the fifth century – Patrick received a vision from God to return to the land of his imprisonment to share the gospel. Ordained as a bishop and appointed to Ireland as history’s first missionary bishop, he arrived back in this wild and barbaric land with his assistants in 432 A. D.

For 28 years until his death in 460 A. D. he poured his life out leading others to Christ. He and his company baptized thousands, planted about 700 churches and he ordained perhaps 1000 priests. “Within his lifetime, 30 to 40 (or more) of Ireland’s 150 tribes became substantially Christian. …Patrick’s achievements included social dimensions. He was the first public man to speak and crusade against slavery. Within his lifetime, or soon after, ‘the Irish slave trade came to a halt, and other forms of violence, such as murder and intertribal warfare decreased,’ and his communities modeled the Christian way of faithfulness, generosity, and peace to all the Irish.”[2]

I offer this reminder as a part of an almost annual pilgrimage to lift up St. Patrick. In this time of modern metaphors and “youtube” exclamations, it is important that we pause and remember a true hero of the Christian faith. In the vernacular slang of our age, “he walked the talk.” The great church historian Dr. Williston Walker has written of him, Patrick “so advanced the cause of the Gospel in that island and so organized its Christian institutions, that he deserves the title of Apostle to Ireland.” (Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church, p. 179)

In the church today it is important that we remember our past. We are here, living as Christ followers, because others gave their life to the cause of Christ. There are others, many others, to add to this pantheon of heroes. There are saints and sages of both genders and from virtually every ethnic group under the sun. Their collective stories should inspire us. We who take so much for granted need to pause on special days to remember, give thanks, and rededicate ourselves to this same holy ministry.

I urge us in our Sunday worship to pause and give thanks. We might add to the list on this special day. No doublet you can think of many, some well know and others not known at all except for a few. Both individually and collectively they are a gift of love from God to us. Their examples are today’s lesson for tomorrow’s future.

 

 

[1]               George Hunter, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, p. 49

[2]               Hunter, IBID, p. 23

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