Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

 I received this today from our high school's executive director, a retired Lutheran pastor. Sorry for the horrible spacing!  It's how it copies into my blog from the email I received.  I can fix it and make it look good, but as soon as I post it goes back to normal. 

May we, like Patrick, be winsome witnesses for Jesus!

St. Patrick    

        St. Patrick was born in Scotland and was kidnapped and sold in Ireland as a slave. He became

        fluent in the Irish language before making his escape to the continent. Eventually he was ordained
        as a deacon, then priest and finally as a bishop. Pope Celestine then sent him back to Ireland to
        preach the Gospel.  As a missionary, he spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere he traveled,
        most importantly leaving the saving Gospel in every place he visited.  His Christian witness left an
        impression because of the many places in Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland that are
        named after him.

Patrick is most known the world over for having driven the snakes from Ireland.  It is true that today there
are no snakes in Ireland.  Two interesting stories and legends lie behind this fact.

First, snakes (Gen. 3:1‑15) are a symbol of the devil in the Bible.  Different tales tell of Patrick's standing
upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from the shores
of Ireland. One legend says that one old serpent resisted, but the saint overcame it by cunning. He is said
to have made a box and invited the reptile to enter. The snake insisted the box was too small and the
discussion became very heated. Finally the snake entered the box to prove he was right, whereupon St
Patrick slammed the lid and cast the box into the sea.  Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably
symbolic of putting an end to pagan practices in that country. While not the first to bring Christianity to
Ireland, it was Patrick who encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites. He converted
the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the Holy Wells which still
bear that name. According to tradition St. Patrick died in A.D. 493.

The second interesting thing to note about the absence of snakes in Ireland is related to the shamrock.
As in many old pagan religions serpent symbols were common, and possibly even worshiped.  The
Shamrock, at one time called the "Seamroy", symbolizes the cross and the Trinity. The well known legend
of the Shamrock connects it to St. Patrick and his teaching.  Preaching in the open air to crowds of people
‑‑ including children, he is said to have illustrated the existence of the Father‑Son‑and Holy Spirit by
plucking a shamrock from the grass growing at his feet and showing it to his congregation. The legend of
the shamrock is also connected with that snakes are never seen on trefoil (shamrocks) and that shamrocks
are a remedy against the stings of snakes and scorpions ‑‑ just as our Lord, in the fullness of His holiness
(Father, Son, Holy Spirit) will always ward of the devil and His ways AND that our Lord is the only
effective treatment against sin, death, and the devil.

 How much of this is 100% true?
I don't know.  Who cares?  It all sounds great if it is.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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