Today, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It’s fun to wear green and color shamrocks, but do you know much about St Patrick, the man? I bet not, so here is the real story of who he was and why we have a holiday named after him.
Many, many years ago, there was a young boy named Patrick who lived in the country of Wales. His parents took Patrick to church and tried to bring him up to love God and be a good person. One day though while Patrick was outside, he saw some bad men come into their town. They were mean and cruel, and that night they set fires to some of the town’s people’s homes. But even worse, these were Irish pirates, and they kidnapped some of the people in the town and took them to Ireland as slaves. Patrick was one of them.
Can you imagine what it was like for Patrick to be taken away at the age of 16 from his parents, family, community and become a slave? Patrick was sold to an Irish king. He had to work in the pasture tending sheep for no pay and very little food. Patrick prayed to God for help. One day, Patrick heard God’s voice in his head, and God told him to just walk off from where was, go to the town, get on a ship, and sail back to his homeland. Patrick wasn’t sure about this, but he decided he had better do what God said, so he just left the field of sheep, found a ship sailing to Wales, got on it, and with no problem was soon back home. Patrick had been a slave for six years.
He decided that he wanted to become a Priest, so he studied hard and committed himself to God. Then do you know what God told him to do? God told Patrick to go back to Ireland and preach the good news of Jesus to those people that were so mean to him. God gave Patrick the courage to return and forgive those people, and even though he was almost killed several times, God always kept Patrick safe. Because of Patrick’s work and preaching in Ireland, slavery was ended there, and Christianity spread across the whole country. Patrick lived to be a very old man. He lived to see Ireland transformed by God’s message of love and forgiveness. After his death, Patrick was honored for his work by becoming St. Patrick, and that is why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day even now.
God saw and heard Patrick in his darkest times just like He sees and hears us when we are sad, scared, or feel helpless. God answered Patrick’s prayers, and Patrick had the courage to do what God told him to do. God blessed him for that. Remember to ask God for His help and not be afraid to do what He says. God will never leave or forsake you and will bless you too for doing His will.
Let’s say a prayer. Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the example of St. Patrick. Through Your direction and his courage, many people were brought to believe in You. Help us to be like St. Patrick and ask for Your help and direction when we need it as well. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church.