Most people think the best place to celebrate St. Patrick’s day would be in the local pub. Actually, the better place to remember him would be in church!
Saint Patrick is revered in Irish mythology as the man who drove the snakes from Ireland. Each March 17th, the color green is worn with pride and various forms of celebration erupt in pubs everywhere.
However, the real story of St. Patrick is one of a man on a mission. Not a mission to drive out snakes and party but to bring the power of the gospel to his Irish captors. In the fifth century, as the Roman Empire was collapsing, Patrick was captured by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland from his native Britain. He was 16 and was entrapped in slavery. Six years later, he escaped and returned home. God was at work in his heart.
Patrick determined to return to Ireland not on a mission for revenge, but as a missionary for the gospel! God granted him success and the gospel was spread throughout Ireland. Over the next 200 years, Celtic Christians, following Patrick’s example, brought the gospel to Britain, France, and central Europe. Those Irish pirates had no idea that kidnapping a teenager to be their slave would be used of God to bring many thousands to Christ!
If you wear green this St. Patrick’s day, think of the green pastures of life. These pastures nourished many because one teenager refused to let the oppression of a godless culture shape his identity. Instead of being ruled by bitterness, he was overwhelmed with compassion. Patrick knew that God had given him the challenge to bring the gospel to those lost!
Here is a prayer from St. Patrick describing why he returned to Ireland (from Rediscovering the Church Fathers, Crossway Publishers):
In the light, therefore, of our faith in the Trinity I must make this choice, regardless of danger I must make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, without fear and frankly I must spread everywhere the name of God so that after my decease I may leave a bequest to my brethren and sons whom I have baptized in the Lord—so many thousands of people.