When I think of St Patrick’s day, I think of green beer, leprechauns and shamrocks. Everything Irish. It’s celebrated somewhat in NZ, but for me I’d have to go back five generations to find only one Irish ancestor, so it’s hardly worth observing. I don’t even give it a nod by wearing green. How about you? Do you celebrate it where you are?
I can see how the shamrock came about. Saint Patrick, a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the fifth century, explained the Trinity using a clover leaf. I thought it was a clever idea. Its the kind of thing Jesus would do.
The word Trinity means the triune nature of God as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is love. The bond of love between the three is so strong they are like one being. The word Trinity is not found in the Bible, but I can demonstrate the Trinity to you using these two passages from the Bible;
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17
Here’s the Trinity in a blessing;
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14
So I hope you can see the Trinity from those verses.
Now here is something I didn’t know about St Patrick;
On Easter eve of March 26, 433, Patrick lit a fire on a hill in defiance of a King who had ordered all household fires be extinguished in preparation for a pagan festival of light. The Paschal fire Patrick lit was a real bonfire which blazed out the message that Jesus Christ is still the Light of the world.
It could be seen across to the next hill, the hill of Tara where the king and his followers were preparing for their pagan festival. It was fortunate that the pagan king did not kill him for his defiance, but Patrick’s courage and faith won the day. From that time on, the influence of St. Patrick increased until the whole of Ireland had heard the message of Easter: that Christ is the Light of the World and that everyone can be saved through Jesus Christ.
What I like about St Patrick’s day, besides Patrick’s clever use of the Shamrock is an Irish folk song called “Slane” – for the hill where St. Patrick lit his holy fire. My favourate hymn “Be thou my vision” uses the music from Slane. It’s an old Old Irish hymn originally sung by 6th century monks. The English version is still sung to the tune in which it was sung originally. The song reminds me of the Kingdom of God; with the King, the word, the tower, the armour and the battle we fight. May we be as brave and bold and defiant as St Patrick.
Here are the words;
Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word.
Be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord.
Be thou my great Father, and I thy true son.
Be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.
Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight.
Be thou my whole armor, be thou my true might.
Be thou my soul’s shelter, be thou my strong tower.
O raise thou me heavenward, great power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise.
Be thou my inheritance, now and always.
Be thou and thou only, the first in my heart.
O sovereign of heaven, my treasure thou art.
A statue of St Patrick keeps watch over the surrounding land from Slane Hill. It’s quite a view. The hill of Slane towers 521 feet above the surrounding Irish countryside. To the east are the mounds of Newgrange and Knowth, and the Irish sea beyond. To the north can be seen Slieve Guillion, a mountain in Northern Ireland, to the south is the Sugarloaf Mountain in Wicklow, and to the west are the midlands of Ireland.
Here’s a clip of the song “Be thou my vision”.