We are on the cusp of St Patrick’s day, which will play out very differently this year. Celebrations in Ireland and elsewhere will be curtailed and the usual mood of fun and happiness will be somewhat muted.
My knowledge of Ireland’s patron saint is limited, but I am curious about how we can look back at his life story. The first things that tend to come to mind whenever I think of Saint Patrick are, of course, the celebrations that happen each year and the account of him driving snakes out of Ireland. The removal of the snakes could be put in the bracket of legend. Meanwhile, the celebrations are regarded as part of Patrick’s legacy and the part that he plays in Irish history and identity.
– He spoke out against injustice and proclaimed a message of hope that transformed lives, communities and nations –
So, what else can we say about that legacy? As I have spent time reading about Patrick’s life, what has stood out has been the remarkable account of someone who overcame adversity to share the message of the Christian faith with the people of Ireland and beyond. He spoke out against injustice and proclaimed a message of hope that transformed lives, communities and nations. His model and style of ministry and mission would go on to have an impact across Europe.
Recalling and marking the impact of that one individual should give great encouragement to the church in Ireland, Scotland and beyond. Stories of transformation certainly have the potential to capture our imagination, not least in a time when we must continually evaluate what we do and how we do it. Early Christians like Patrick made a phenomenal impact without the resources, buildings and programmes that we have, and that should certainly be an encouragement to us.
Patrick’s legacy and the message of hope he proclaimed all those centuries ago still endure.
The legacy lives, on even if the celebrations that mark his life must be curtailed, and for this I am thankful.
Stuart Irvin. March 2020