- L Trevarthen
There's more to St Patrick's Day...
There's more to St Patrick's day than beer and good luck. This day, to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, is more than about green. It is more than about Ireland. It is more than about parades. It is more than about celebrations. It is more than about having a jolly good time.
It's about how God can work in people's lives. How he is there to protect and guide us. How his presence is everywhere. It's about God's grace, and that even unlearned, flawed people can bear witness to God and his love for us.
Patrick was a teenage shepherd slave when he first felt God's presence. He didn't think a lot of himself. He knew he himself did not add up to much. But Christ could cover all of his deficiencies.
Patrick committed himself to Christ, and later wrote: "The Lord opened the understanding of my unbelief, that, late as it was, I might remember my faults and turn to the Lord my God with all my heart; and He had regard to my low estate, and pitied my youth and ignorance, and kept guard over me even before I knew Him."
Patrick knew and believed God was in everything. He relied on God for everything. His faith in Christ was the inspiration for his work, in preaching the gospel, every day of his life. Patrick's faith bore fruit, and he left an everlasting legacy, even if we don't remember it today in the way he would have intended.
In the famous "St Patrick's breastplate", Patrick's prayer and dedication says this:
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 way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.
The words of St Patrick's breastplate are affirming and motivational.
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.
There have been several renditions of Patrick's words, and one I particularly like is that by Celtic Woman, which can be found on YouTube, called "Deers Cry". The soothing quality of the music encourages meditation. Think about the words. Patrick would have wanted us to remember God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in all we do, and not just on St Patrick's Day.
So on this St Patrick's day, let's remember the dedicated work of Patrick, and strive to follow his example of faith.