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Archive for March, 2011

Each March 17th we sport our green attire and decorate with shamrocks. We tell stories of leprechauns and pots of gold. We kiss the Blarney Stone, have big parades, and color the river green. But what is this holiday we celebrate all about? Who was this Patrick? How much is truth and how much is crazy folklore?  

Image by ‘bass nroll’ from the Flickr Creative Commons

It is said that Patrick was born to a wealthy strong Christian family in Brittain. At the age of sixteen he was abducted by pagans and taken to Ireland for a life of slavery. As a slave, he attended a flock of sheep belonging to a king. While attending the sheep he would quote the Lord’s Prayer that his Grandfather had taught him as a child. After several years of living in slavery Patrick said that He heard a divine voice telling him to flee back to his homeland. He escaped and boarded a ship and eventually made it back to Brittain.  

After a time, he knew he must return to Ireland, a land gripped with paganism, to share the message of salvation and freedom through Jesus Christ. He battled demonic forces; danger and hardship surrounded him. He wrote “Daily I expect murder, fraud, or captivity, but I fear none of these things because of the promise of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty who rules everywhere.”  

His steadfast, faith and excitement won over kings. The king of Armagh gave him a site to build a church and a pot of gold to do so. Patrick’s response was “Thanks be to God.” This infuriated the king and he demanded the return of the gold…in which Patrick responded “Thanks be to God.” The king was amazed by this humble attitude and with that he gave him a more suited place to build his church and to share the gospel.  

Patrick ministered in Ireland for over 30 years. He baptized thousands and planted hundreds of churches across the land. Throughout the coming years the once pagan land called Ireland, would become predominately Christian.  

St. Patrick, which he is now lovingly referred to, died in Ireland on March 17th, 460 A.D. Thus, the reason we celebrate this special day each year.  

There is much legend that goes along with St. Patrick but not much is actually substantiated.  Some believe that he raised people from the dead and others say he drove all the snakes out of Ireland.  

Image by ‘pirate johnny’ from the Flickr Creative Commons

The icon that surrounds the holiday is the shamrock. This three-leaf clover, representing the Trinity of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit – the message so strongly preached by the missionary.  The Leprechaun is a mythical character stemming from the Celtic belief in tiny fairies that were cranky and endowed magical powers for good and evil. The cute and cheerful leprechaun of today was introduced in a 1950’s Walt Disney film called Darby O’Gill and the Little People and evolved quickly into a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day.  

Image by ‘discopalace’ from the Flickr Creative Commons

In America we celebrate with parades such as the famous St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago. During this time the Chicago River is dyed green, a tradition started back in 1962.  

 

So on this March 17th, as I don my green, I’ll plan for a fun-filled day of pinching those not in dressed in the correct attire and take the fun, traditional folklore and marry it with the remembrance of this faithful missionary called Patrick …and I may even fix some corned beef and cabbage to round out the day.  

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Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Luke 18:16 (MSG)

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