Last week much of the world celebrated the feast of Saint Patrick, and they almost certainly celebrated with much intake of alcohol, much feasting and much dancing.
In some parts of the world they even dye their local rivers green.
It is good to celebrate ones nation and one’s culture, but the way in which his feast is now celebrated would probably have made Ireland’s patron saint’s hair go grey.
Patrick was a man of tremendous faith and amazing strength of character.
Born in the north of England or the south of Scotland or maybe in Wales, many peoples claim him, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to be a slave in their land.
This capture and the harsh treatment which he received did not turn Patrick against his captors, but encouraged him after his escape back to this side of the Irish Sea, to decide to return to his place of captivity to share with those had held him captive the love of Christ which had strengthened him in imprisonment.
His return to Ireland led to an amazing rate of conversion and change, such as led some to name Ireland and island of saints. He achieved this with determination and with prayer and an abiding trust that God would be with him.
A trust that we see in the prayer known as his Breastplate or Lorica, here in a version by Mrs Alexander.
I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.
He knew his need for strength, a strength that he knew he could only find in the God who had shown such love for him, so each day he would metaphorically bind that love around him as he rose from sleep to face the challenges of the day, so that he would see Christ in friend and stranger.