St. Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland?
Patrick was born in 386 into an aristocratic British Christian family. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland where he was a shepherd for 6 years. During those years he became a devout Christian and developed a love for the Irish. He made his way home eventually but could not forget Ireland. And so he returned as a missionary to teach the Pagans about Christianity. He is celebrated every March 17, commemorating his death.
Now of course St. Patty?s Day doesn?t quite look like a Christ centered celebration anymore. Some wear green and pinch those who don?t. Some participate in parades. Some eat the traditional meal of corned beef and hash. Some even drink green beer. Every year I serve the same meal on St. Patty?s Day: pork chops, green mashed potatoes, and green applesauce. It?s a tradition.
So why talk about such a silly holiday? Because of the Shamrock. The three leafed symbol of St. Patty?s day (some use the 4 leaf clover, but that is historically incorrect).
St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach the Irish about the Trinity. He used what was familiar to teach the Irish about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He didn?t complicate the message, he didn?t change the message; he simply used what was familiar to the listeners to help them understand.
What a great lesson for all of us. If you like big fancy words this is known as contextualization. Which simply means to bring the message into the context of those who are listening.
Happy St. Patrick?s day, and go ahead redeem the original goodness of St Patrick?s Day. Wear your green, don a shamrock and share the message. This March 17th, celebrate around your table with pork chops, green mashed potatoes, and green applesauce.