At the risk of alienating some folks, I have to admit that I have never much gotten into the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day as it is celebrated in the United States. Perhaps it’s because I’m Polish and the day really celebrates all things Irish, not the saint per se. But that’s not even the case. The day doesn’t really celebrate all things Irish—it often tends to celebrate a caricature of what it means to be Irish. The Irish people I know and love (including my beautiful daughter-in-law Sarah) are nothing like the caricature that is paraded on that day.
So while I’m all for raising a beer, having a good laugh, and enjoying a good parade, I also think we can honor St. Patrick and all things Irish by digging a little deeper to discover just what St. Patrick stands for. In his article, “Reclaiming St. Patrick’s Day,” evangelical author Ted Olsen does just that. In his article (subscription needed to read in full), Olsen suggests that St. Patrick’s Day—if it honored the socio-political ramifications of St. Patrick’s legacy—would focus attention on the following:
- Fighting human trafficking (Patrick himself was kidnapped and forced into slavery.)
- Evangelism (Patrick worked tirelessly to bring people to Christ.)
- Multiethnic and incarnational ministry (Patrick, who was not Irish, identified himself with the Irish whom he served.)
- Christian education (Patrick did more than just make converts; he formed disciples.)
- Connection to Church (Patrick was spiritual but also religious!)
I offer Olsen’s article to you for your enjoyment as we approach the celebration of this great saint.
Image by Andreas F. Borchert [CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons (background green added).