St. Patrick’s Day really is a perfect recipe for trouble. For instance, it’s right smack in the middle of March, which means warmer weather, Spring Break has just ended for college students and will soon be here for high school students. Put that together with the fact we are a country who simply loves to celebrate random things for no reason – you get St. Patrick’s Day, a day we know very little about, only that we can get away with pinching people.
Who really was St. Patrick, though, and why is there a St. Patrick’s Day?
To give a brief history of the man, he was kidnapped when he was a teenager and taken to Ireland to be a slave for farmers in the Emerald Isle. His duty was to be a shepherd and he spent most of his days alone, while hanging out with sheep. One day he heard the voice of God out in the middle of the field and he turned his life to God and maintained he would serve God.
So, he escaped. He journeyed over 200 miles to an area near Dublin, caught a boat back to Great Britain and began life there once again. He was a little older and he was a devout Christian, who was sold out for Christ.
But then he got really serious with his faith – in fact, his friends and family told him he was nuts. Why? He told them he was going back to Ireland. He was going back to the land where he was a slave. He was going back to be a missionary, to tell people about Christ.
He didn’t bring Christianity over to the Emerald Isle, but he did help it get organized and was arguably the leading cause of Christianity being established in Ireland.
And how do we celebrate here in America? We pinch people, get drunk, and wear shirts that say, “kiss me, I’m Irish.”
Call me crazy, but that seems like an awfully silly way to celebrate a man who went back to the country where he was enslaved to tell people about Jesus.
In fact, until just recently, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a somber day of remembrance of the man. It was considered a Holy Day. Now, financial issues in the country have led many to celebrate the day and offer tourists attractions to help stimulate the economy and encourage visitors who are eager to get the “luck of the Irish.”
In our world, money seems to talk the loudest; not our faith.
As Christians, as those who are following Christ, St. Patrick’s Day is a great reminder about taking the Word of God to places we might be afraid of, taking our faith outside the walls of our church, or simply praying we could have a faith like Patrick – a faith that ruled every aspect of his life.
Ultimately it comes down to the question we must ask ourselves, “Is my faith influencing the world or is the world influencing my faith?”
I pray we could all be a little crazy today and let our faith influence the world by telling of the love, goodness, and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Luke is Pastor of Discipleship to the community of saints, in Christ, at Nashville UMC.