As another St. Patrick’s Day comes upon us, most of the attention will be on the celebration of Irish culture with corned beef and cabbage and green beer. The degrading stereotype of the Irish as “drunks” will play out in pubs and parades that all really miss the fact that this day is a feast day for a saint of the Christian faith. Green beer and drunkenness have nothing to do with it.
Patrick lived in the 5th Century. When he was in his mid-teens, he was captured by Irish raiders from his home in Britain. Patrick was not Irish. He was the victim of human trafficking, stolen away to Ireland to serve as a slave. After six years in captivity, he escaped from the pagans of Ireland and returned to Christian Britain. He then pursued his education and was ordained a priest. If we remember nothing else about St. Patrick on his day, it should be what happened next – he returned to the people who had kidnapped him and held him captive to bring them the love of Christ. Patrick loved his enemies.
Patrick proved to be an able teacher and apostle. Sent to Ireland by the church as a Bishop without any congregations or people, Patrick became an evangelist who in fact, in myth, in legend, brought a whole people to faith in Christ. Patrick used the shamrock to teach about the Trinity. He reinterpreted druidic ideas into Christian doctrine. Patrick the former slave, brought hope and life to his former captors.
Patrick left us with teaching and prayer that still captures the heart and mind. He said, “I am certain in my heart that all that I am, I have received from God,” echoing the spiritual truth p roclaimed by Augustine, Luther, and so many more. Patrick believed that his value as a human being, his purpose, was wrapped up in God. “If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God.” That all of us could be this clear about living.
Patrick preached a faith that saw all of creation holy and interconnected – and Lord, do we need that today. He saw that Christ was in everything and everyone. Another essential awareness for the renewal of our world.
On this St. Patrick’s Day, I offer you a prayer not just of St. Patrick, but one that sustains me in these turbulent times. I’ve shortened it up a bit. Make it your prayer today:
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Tim Olson – Lead Pastor