When it comes to Saint Patrick, the true story is even more exciting than the legend and the myth. The facts are far better than the fable. This day that belongs to St. Patrick has become about leprechauns, shamrocks, pots of gold, and green—green everywhere. Famously, the City of Chicago dumps forty pounds of its top-secret dye into the river. A green racing stripe courses through the city. But long before there was the St. Patrick of myth, there was the Patrick of history. Who was Patrick?
Patrick was born in 385 in Roman Britannia in the modern-day town of Dumbarton, Scotland. Patrick opens his autobiographical St. Patrick’s Confession with these opening lines:
My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many. My father was Calpornius. He was a deacon; his father was Potitus, a priest, who lived at Bannavem Taburniae. His home was near there, and that is where I was taken prisoner. I was about sixteen at the time.
Patrick skips over much of his first sixteen years. But who can blame him? At sixteen and being captured by barbarian Irish pirates is a pretty exciting place to begin a story. When the pirates landed on the Irish coast, they took Patrick about 200 miles inland where he was a shepherd and farm laborer. Six years passed and Patrick had either a vivid dream or a vision in which he was shown an escape route. Emboldened, Patrick made his break from his captors, traveling back over the 200 miles to the shoreline. As he approached the docks, a British ship stood waiting. The sails unfurled and Patrick was home. But he didn’t stay long.
Before he was a prisoner, Patrick’s Christian faith meant little to him. That changed during his captivity. His previously ambivalent faith galvanized and served to buoy him through those long, dark days. Now that he was back in his homeland he committed to his faith in earnest. He became a priest and soon felt a tremendous burden for the people that had kidnapped him. So he returned to Ireland with a mission.
Patrick had no less of a goal than seeing pagan Ireland converted. These efforts did not set well with Loegaire (or Leoghaire), the pagan king of pagan Ireland. Patrick faced danger and even threats on his life. He took to carrying a dagger. Yet, despite these setbacks, Patrick persisted. Eventually the king converted and was baptized by Patrick and much of the people of Ireland followed suit. A later legend would have it that Patrick rid all of Ireland of snakes. Snakes were not native to Ireland at the time. Instead, Patrick rid Ireland of marauding ways and a cultural and civil barbarianism by bringing not only Christianity to Ireland, but by bringing a whole new ethic. It was not too long ago that a New York Times’ bestselling book argued that St. Patrick and his Ireland saved civilization.
Patrick would come to be known as the “Apostle of Ireland.” He planted churches, the first one likely at a place called Saul, in Northern Ireland, a bit inland from the coast and just below Belfast. Patrick planted more churches as he crisscrossed Ireland. The challenge with Patrick is sifting through the legend. Take the shamrock for instance. Some biographers claim definitively that Patrick used the shamrock as an object lesson to teach pagans about the Trinity, that God is one in essence and three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is no evidence, however, for such a claim.
Curiously, like most of his legend, St. Patrick is not even truly a saint. He has never been canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Patrick himself told us he was a sinner, not a saint.
Legend further has it that Patrick died on March 17, 461. He likely died in Saul, where he planted his first church. A significant monument stands atop the hill overlooking the town. Panels depicting scenes from Patrick’s life surround the monument’s base.
What casts a far greater shadow than his monument, however, is St. Patrick’s Day. And that day in the middle of March raises a significant question: Should Christians celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? If you do, you might want to consider wearing orange. Orange? Here’s why. After 1798 the color of green was closely associated with Roman Catholicism and orange with Protestantism—after William of Orange, the Protestant king. The holiday is certainly not to be used as means for excessive partying and celebration. But wearing orange and trying to tell people who St. Patrick really was might be a good way to celebrate.
So we remember Patrick best not in the legends and fables and not in the ways his holiday tends to be celebrated. Perhaps we remember him best by reflecting on the “St. Patrick’s Breastplate,” which has traditionally been attributed to him. The word breastplate is a translation of the Latin word lorica, a prayer, especially for protection. These prayers would be written out and at times placed on shields of soldiers and knights as they went out to battle. St. Patrick’s Lorica points beyond himself and his adventurous life. It points to Christ, the one he proclaimed to the people who had taken him captive:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Good morning Church!!!
I wanted to update everyone after last night’s February Church Servant Council meeting.
Very excited to let you know that Council has affirmed the Church Pandemic Safety Team’s recommendation to begin in-person worship at both the Downtown (9am) and the Connection (11am) Campuses with the safety guidelines we followed when we came together in the fall beginning on Sunday, March 14. This date will allow for the adjustments to be made that are needed in preparation for gathering inside once again. Safety guidelines include single-entry (North entrance by Lake City Bank Downtown and Gym entrance Connection), required facemasks, physical distancing between family groups, use of hand sanitizer on entry, no sharing of food in groups or coffee fellowship Downtown and snack table at Connection, and worshipping virtually when having symptoms. We will continue to provide virtual worship through Oldies 101 and the excellent outlets we have developed during the past year through our website (warsawfumc.org), Facebook and YouTube (Warsaw FUMC).
Our Family Ministry Team will meet Thursday to discuss the feasibility and logistics of restarting in-person ministry to children on Sunday mornings and will be communicating how and when this might happen. A lot will depend on having enough volunteers to help. If you would be interested in helping with nursery or children’s ministry, please let me know.
It was also approved to open up the facilities for all groups to be able to meet following safety guidelines effective Monday, March 1. Please keep in mind that if you have a group planning to meet, please contact Ann in the church office to let her know when you plan to start up so that she can be sure your group is on the calendar. All groups will be asked to follow the safety guidelines mentioned above as well.
Our Pandemic Safety Team will continue to monitor the situation in our community and make any needed adjustments. Thank you all for your patience, prayers and flexibility as we’ve tried to navigate through these unusual times.
See below to watch the recording of the United Methodist Women North District Fall 2020 Meeting. The meeting took place Saturday morning, September 19 at 10 a.m. Here’s your opportunity to view what is happening in our district of 46 local units of United Methodist Women!
A new United Methodist Women’s group is offering opportunities for spiritual growth, mission giving, social action and vital discipleship during these difficult times. Our community of women’s purpose is to know God and to experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ; to develop a creative, supportive fellowship to expand concepts of mission through participation in the global ministries of the church We strive for love of God and neighbors. All are welcome; it is not necessary to be a member of the United Methodist Church. Monthly Virtual Meetings, until further notice. Interested? Please contact Kathie Votra (260) 568-0977 or email@example.com