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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

['Viewpoint with Rev. Don Miller, First Baptist Church']
['Viewpoint with Rev. Don Miller, First Baptist Church']

Many will be surprised to learn that the day involves a little more than green beer and shamrocks.

March 17 marks the date of Patron Saint Patrick’s death in 461.

March 17 marks the date of Patron Saint Patrick’s death in 461.

At age 16 it is believed that Patrick was kidnapped from his home in Britain by Pirates and forced to be a slave in Ireland.  It was during his captivity that he grew spiritually and depended upon God. He worked with animals for 6 years before escaping and returning to Britain.  

He felt called by God to enter the priesthood, and on the completion of his training felt called in a vision to return to the very place he had been captive. He now knew the language and was able to successfully bring the Christian message to Ireland. Eventually he became Bishop of Ireland.

We have limited records of St Patrick, but plenty of legends. The shamrock grew in popularity because it is believed Patrick used its three leaves to teach his flock about the Trinity. Some credit Patrick for the absence of snakes in Ireland, believing he drove them all into the sea after they tried to attack him during a 40 day fast.  There is also rumour that his walking stick grew into a living tree.

We know that he was founder of the Celtic Cross which incorporated familiar symbols of sun worship into the Christian cross. 

So what can we learn from Saint Patrick?  His father served as a deacon in the church and Patrick’s parents laid the foundation of his faith.  Never underestimate the value of prayer and the influence of parents. 

Most in Patrick’s shoes would hate their captors and spend a wounded life seeking revenge. Patrick not only found forgiveness for those who wronged him, but had compassion for them.

Never underestimate the power of forgiveness.

Taken from our families and forced into slavery, most of us would feel abandoned by God. Saint Patrick’s story is a good reminder that God does indeed work in mysterious ways. God was able to use Patrick’s negative experiences for good and accomplish great things. Sometimes we won’t always understand why we face some of the challenges in this life, but we can trust that God has a greater purpose.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”   (Romans 8:28)

And that’s the Story of Saint Patrick: hero of the Irish people, who wasn’t even Irish.

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