St. Patrick’s Day is not just a holiday about Irish stuff. It isn’t just a day for remembering we have that green suit jacket in the closet, or having an excuse for pinching our party-pooping friends. (You know who you are!)
It’s a day for remembering the “missionary mindset” that all Christians should adopt and encourage. It’s a real holiday with a real reason behind it. Much like Christmas get’s turned into materialism and Easter gets turned into egg laying bunnies, St. Patrick’s day is about so much more than green beer and shamrocks.
Separating myth from fact is sometimes difficult when you are talking about history that is 1600-1700 years old. But here are the facts that I know.
Patrick was actually an Englishman who was captured as a boy by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. After a few years (probably not 12) as a slave he managed to escape back to England. After returning home, and with his whole life ahead of him as a young man, God called him to return to Ireland as a missionary.
Why did God do this? Because there were people in Ireland that needed Jesus. It was a land of great paganism and wickedness. Out of the comforts of family and friends, Patrick goes into a land of evil enemies and great hardships. He chose to endure the difficulties of life in Ireland because he loved his Lord more than his comforts. He obeyed the calling of God and ministered on the green isle for 30 years. Many came to Christ and indeed the entire nation was set on a path toward the Truth.
Sometimes we can get sucked into “American Dream” Christianity. We want this comfortable picture of the perfect American life, with a spouse and kids and a successful career and weekend pastimes and a nice home and good friends and a solid church where we can serve soup to the needy, eat potluck dinners twice a month, and maybe mentor someone if we have time. We forget that often the calling of the Kingdom requires suffering and hardships. And sometimes we are called away from our comfortable hometowns and our supportive family to take the Gospel into the uttermost reaches of the earth. Like China, or Russia, or Iraq….. or Nevada. (;o)
We don’t have to go to a foreign mission field to have a missionary mindset. But all of us are called somewhere. No matter what our vocation or pastimes, we are called to carry Christ into the world wherever we go. And sometimes God calls us to give up creature comforts and the “American Dream”, or in Patrick’s case the English Dream, in order to serve a higher calling….proclaiming the Kingdom of God to a dieing world.