Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Return We Make

Many of you are probably wearing green today, for fear of getting pinched. :)  Others might be rolling your eyes at a "hallmark holiday" or hating the drunken revelry that often goes on in the name of "St. Patrick's Day."  While I certainly don't personally buy gifts or cards for today, and I do regret anyone taking time to become drunk, I do love St. Patrick's Day and what it stands for.  Hmmm... what does it stand for?

The man whom we honor died on March 17th.  His whole adult life was spent preaching the Gospel* to the Druidic kingdoms of old Ireland-- the very people who had enslaved him as a boy.  He returned to them voluntarily, coming to view his time of captivity as a blessing-- not only the crucible God used to save him, but also a chance to learn the Irish language fluently.  He had since studied and been approved by church leaders and been sent as a missionary, burdened for the souls of the people who had once kidnapped him, and determined that the true God be worshiped as He deserved in every nation under Heaven as Scripture teaches.  St. Patrick is an emblem of evangelism, of fearless strength in weakness, and of passionate, self-risking love for even enemies.  St. Patrick's Day is "about" the glory of God, courage, and the power of the Gospel to save!  AMEN!!

 My two favorite quotes from the fearless missionary, passionate evangelist and careful pastor, the one we now call Saint Patrick:
Wherefore, I cannot keep silence-- nor would it be fitting.  [...] For this is the return we make, that after our chastening or after our recognition of God, we should exalt and proclaim His wondrous ways before every nation which is under the whole heaven.
And so in the measure of our faith in the Trinity, it is fitting for me to explain, and without censure of rashness, to make known the gift of God and the everlasting hope.  Moreover, it is fitting that I spread everywhere the name of God without fear, confidently; so that after my death I may leave a legacy to my brethren and my sons whom I baptized in the Lord-- so many thousands of men.
My husband gave me a translation of all of Patrick's known works for Christmas the second year we were married, and reading it not only opened my eyes to the truly great man of God that Patrick (or Sucat, as he was first known) was, but it was a huge encouragement to me spiritually, a spur towards passionate love for the Lost and supreme confidence in a worthy Savior.  One of my favorite Southern professors has just written a bit about Patrick on his blog, too.  Check it out!

* The word "Gospel" means "good news," and is shorthand for what God has done to save sinful man.  The good news is that even though we are incapable of moving towards God on our own, He (God the Son) became a man (Jesus the Christ) in order to bring us to Himself.  He did this by living a perfect life, dying a death whose worst torture wasn't the physical agony but rather being forsaken and abandoned by God the Father-- He did this to pay the penalty for our sins, as He had none of His own to pay for, and then being raised after 3 days in a Jewish tomb.  He went back to Heaven and sent His Holy Spirit into the hearts of all His followers, and in this way lives with His people even now, 2000+ years after his physical life on earth.  Christians are those who believe this to be true and trust Christ's finished work on the Cross as their only way to be saved from the eternal torment they know their sins deserve. They view it as their GOOD NEWS!!

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