What Has Happened to Sainthood?
So yesterday in our worship time, a woman of Irish descent took some time to share with us that St. Patrick’s Day is about more than just green clothing and beer. She shared some of the story of that great Christian who has come to be known as St. Patrick. She told of his capture and slavery, she told of his escape, and then of his return to Ireland to share the Gospel with those who had once mistreated him. And she shared the story (maybe a legend, probably with truth in it) about how St. Patrick used the shamrock as a visual image to teach the doctrine of the Trinity, petals representing Father, Son and Spirit united into a single shamrock. Pretty cool story, huh? Actually, if you have never read any church history to learn about what Patrick did, it is well worth reading.
So, I am neither Irish, nor Catholic, and don’t really wear green all that often. Although, in the right sunshine, my sideburns have a reddish tint to them. That’s about as close as I get. But I got to thinking. The man known as St. Patrick was really quite a phenomenal Christian, and his actions proved it, thus he is remembered as St. Patrick. And St.Valentine was also quite a church leader, with his legendary commitment to the power of love. And St.Nicholas did wonderful things, with his secret generosity towards people in need. Each one was a committed Christian whose actions were exemplary and long remembered for their impact on the people they loved. And each one is associated with holidays we celebrate now, centuries later. But I have a question. So how did their saintly actions get so obfuscated over the course of celebrating the holidays that the influence of Christ can rarely be discerned?
The same is true of other Christian holidays, too. Easter with its rabbits and chocolate bunnies. Oh, by the way, there was something about a resurrection, too wasn't there? Or All Saint’s Day which has been completely overwhelmed by the celebration of All Hallow’s Eve….Halloween. Even the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday is not nearly as famous or revered as the raucous celebrations of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday. Have you ever wondered what happened? I have.
Somehow, I suspect, there are spiritual forces at work. I believe that there really are spiritual beings at odds with the work of God, and that when these holidays are established that could beckon people to Christ, or remember the work and message of His followers, those forces do their best to provide distractions, so that coloring Easter eggs (which I love to do, btw) becomes more important than attending a resurrection sunrise service. Or Christmas becomes about red velvet suits and football more than communion by candlelight remembering a stable born Savior.
Well, I hope you had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. But more than that, I hope you remembered to celebrate the reason he is remembered, for bringing a message of hope and salvation to a people once lost in religions of darkness. And THAT, my friends, is no blarney!
TL:dr Too often we allow our celebrations of Christ to lose Christ in the shuffle.
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