Happy St Patrick's Day

I must have been ten or so when I first learned that I have Irish ancestry. I was nearly twenty before I realized that the ancestry had come to America long before the Potato Famine had begun. My family is a picture of Colonial America (maybe that's the reason I enjoy the time period so much), and for the most part if a ethnicity was in Colonial America, more than likely I have it as ancestry.

Yet, today is the day for the Irish part of my heritage - the day we celebrate St. Patrick himself.

Growing up, it's hard to miss St. Patrick's day, and much has been written concerning the man - including his own words, but there are some points that have always fascinated me about Saint Patrick.

First, he forgave his captors. He had been captured by pirates and more than likely sold into slavery from which he escaped. Yet, like Paul's Macedonian call, the Irish called to Patrick in a dream to return to Eire. Folks, he did. He returned to the very people that had captured him then enslaved him. He did not have too, but he went anyway. That's forgiveness.

Second, he went out of his comfort zone - big time. Now, granted, the first time was completely unwillingly, but the second time he returned willingly. The time that Patrick lived was at the very end of the Roman era - that time when Rome was falling in the West, and darkness started to overtake the world. Patrick left the relative safety of Britain and went to Eire which was nearly off the map in his mind.

Third, he made Eire is home. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was most likely Welsh. Yet, he lived and died in Ireland. He ministered to his new people and he defended them as best he could. He made the Irish his family.

Those elements are ones that always surprised me about Patrick: that he forgave, went and remained. While I may never have to forgive those who enslaved me, I do often have to force myself out of my comfort zone. Sometimes the Lord does the initial shoving, but once I find my footing again, I realize that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The hardest part for many of us is remaining at the new location, stretching to know more and to love more, but not falling away.

So, on Saint Patrick's day, I'd challenge you even as I challenge myself, to look around, and see how we've grown, see where we might become more Christ-like in our daily activities then not to fall back into the past ways, but to continue forward.

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