Joni shares the history about St. Patrick's Day which is often forgotten during the day's celebration.
Hi, this is Joni and Happy St. Patrick's Day! And here's an Irish hymn you can sing with me...
Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me save that Thou art
Thou my first thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light.
Well, that's about an Irish a-hymn as you could want, and it reminds me that the way St. Patrick's Day is celebrated these days, it's all but lost anything to do with honoring this Christian missionary who many hundreds of years ago took the Gospel of Christ to Ireland.
I first read about Patrick's testimony in a book called "How the Irish Saved Western Civilization" by Thomas Cahill and I was so fascinated to learn that Patrick was neither Irish nor Catholic. He was born to a wealthy family in Britain around the year 387. Wow! Pirates from the wilderness of what was then Ireland, used to raid wealthy farms in Britain and at the age of 15, being a learned young man who understood Latin and bookkeeping and accounting... at the age of 15, pirates raided his farm, kidnapped him and he became a slave in Ireland for six long years. Finally, he made his escape and found his way to France on a boat - it was there that he heard the Gospel and came to Christ. Having been forgiven, Patrick began to feel great compassion for the very people who had once enslaved him, the people in that untamed, lawless land of Ireland.
Through years of preparation, he never lost sight of one dream - that was to travel to Ireland to share the Christian faith. Finally in his 50's (and believe me that was old age by 5th century standards), in his 50's he had at last returned to Ireland where he led thousands of people to the Lord. His untiring zeal and contagious enthusiasm won the hearts of the heathen in Ireland and so when Patrick died on March 17th in the year 460, he was greatly mourned. Tradition has it that St. Patrick drove out all the snakes from Ireland, but since no snakes are native to that country, that tale is a likely metaphor for driving out religions in Ireland that practiced human sacrifice.
And so, whether you are wearing green today or not, I hope that this refresher course on the life of a great missionary, Patrick of Ireland, has been encouraging to you today, because truly we stand on the shoulders of giants in the Christian faith and today we celebrate the life of just one of them. You know, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to read biographies of old Christian saints - I'm not talking about saints just from the 1800's, no, let's go way back to Bernard of Clairvaux and to people like Patrick. We stand on their shoulders. These men and women have gained much in contending valiantly for the faith once delivered to the saints - the apostles in New Testament times. So, take a moment, take time to jot down the names of people you would like to read about from days of old and then get their autobiography. Today we celebrate the lift of just one of them -- Happy St. Patrick's Day from all of us at Joni and Friends.
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