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Rev. Ben Strength

St. Patrick and Missions...
believing and acting on the words of Jesus

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! It is amazing how many people who are not of Irish descent celebrate this Irish saint on March 17th.  Saint Patrick was a very real person and an outstanding Christian missionary to the still pagan Irish in the 5th century A.D.  Most of what is historical fact about Patrick can be summed up in a few sentences. Patrick was a Romano-British young man who was kidnapped from his father’s villa and carried to Ireland as a slave. He was enslaved for six years and then escaped from slavery and eventually returned to his family in Britain. Patrick had a vision which directed him to return to Ireland and to convert the Irish to Christianity. After a brief period of education on the continent of Europe he returned to Ireland and began his work. His missionary work in Ireland was very successful. Today Patrick is regarded as the patron saint of Ireland and March 17th, the date of his death, is celebrated in memory of this saint.

            Patrick’s life is a tribute to the mysterious ways in which God works. The life of a 16-year-old Romano-British youth was abruptly transformed by kidnapping and enslavement. Patrick had been reared in a Christian home, but by his own admission he was not particularly interested in the faith. While he was an enslaved shepherd in Ireland he became interested in God and faith in Jesus Christ. After his escape from slavery he was called to return to the land of his enslavement to be a missionary and apostle of Christ. Part of the glory of his life was that he was not only able to forgive his enemies but that he was also willing to carry the message of forgiveness and mercy to them. How many of us would be willing to even forgive those who had treated us this badly? Would we be willing to return to our kidnappers and enslavers and preach the gospel of Christ so that they might be saved and have eternal life?

            During the season of Lent we focus on the forgiving and life-changing work that the Son of God did for the world, and for us. The work of Christ subjected him to rejection, suffering and death. Jesus understood fully what the ultimate price of God’s grace to us was, His own life, and he was willing to pay the price. Grace is freely given, but it was not cheaply purchased. In the words of an old hymn, “Jesus paid it all!”

            Patrick was able to carry out his own mission because he believed and acted on the words of Jesus. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the Publicans do the same?” (Matthew 5: 43-46a NKJV)

            Please think, pray, meditate and act on the words of our Lord. If we live as Jesus intended for us to do our lives and the lives of those around us will be blessed. I hope to see you in church this Sunday!

Grace and Peace, Ben

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