2005-03-18 - St. Patrick
In many places, we are celebrating St. Patrick's Day, with special food, parades and leprechauns. I have two of the latter in my front yard.
What can we learn from St. Patrick, who lived over 1500 years ago?
His religious training took 15 years. Can you imagine? Most of us are chomping at the bit to graduate from college after four years. But St. Patrick diligently persevered in his studies. As the cliched slogan says, "things take time." Too often, our timetable does not dovetail with God's. And when we try to take things into our own hands to speed them up, we usuallly get into trouble.
In addition, St. Patrick - like the Apostle Paul - shared the gospel in the vernacular of his time. He shared it in ways that would appeal to his audience. The Irishman put a symbol of the Sun on the celtic cross, to help the Irish people identify with it more. In addition, he took the bonfire used by pagans and claimed it for the Christian faith, making it part of the Easter celebration. As a friend of mine said recently in a devotional he shared with his fellow elders, it's the message we should that is important, not the medium.
There is no "evil" music, for example. Music is simply notes. As many of you know, the tune to "Amazing Grace," now considered sacred by many, got its start as a bar song. Music, like most other things, is what you make of it.
Jesus talked to farmers about sowing and reaping. He taught vineyard growers (and wine drinkers) with metaphors about vines and branches. A couple hundred years later, St. Patrick made the faith "user-friendly" to his contemporaries. We, too, need to to be open to the fresh winds of the Spirit when we share our faith. We can adapt the medium without compromising the basic tenets of our faith.
This year, whether you are enjoying watching the parade, or feasting on corned beef and cabbage, take a moment to think how you can emulate St. Patrick in your life.