The Commemoration of Patrick, Missionary to Ireland, +17 March ca. 466
March 17, 2017 by prschroeder
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 has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
Salvation is of Christ the Lord!
Hymn # 172 from Lutheran Worship
Let us pray… God of grace and might, we praise You for your servant Patrick, to whom You gave gifts to make the good news known to the people of Ireland. Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds and evangelists of Your kingdom, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lessons: Isaiah 62: 1-7; Psalm 48; Romans 10: 11-17; St. Luke 24: 44-53
Bio: Patrick is one of the best-known of the missionary saints. Born to a Christian family in Britain around the year 389, he was captured as a teenager by raiders, taken to Ireland, and forced to serve as a herdsman. After six years he escaped and found his way to a monastery community in France. Ordained a bishop in 432, he made his way back to Ireland, where he spent the rest of his long life spreading the Gospel and organizing Christian communities. He strongly defended the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in a time when it was not popular to do so. His literary legacy includes his autobiography, Confession, and several prayers and hymns still used in the church today. Patrick died around the year 466. Read more about St. Patrick’s biography here, citing quotes from his Confession.
Reflection: The Church’s mission is Baptism. St. Patrick, missionary Bishop, knew that. The Lord did not send Patrick to the land of Eire to establish Irish national identity, drink green beer (itself a heresy!), get drunk in a pub and have another reason for “hooking-up”. He came to preach the Christ who sets us free from all of that and all sin and death.
He wrote a majestic poem that became a hymn on Holy Baptism (see above). Ireland had been evangelized prior to Patrick but it was through this servant of the Lord that the Faith was rooted. Bishop Patrick’s preaching of Jesus Christ was to the baptized who had wandered down false paths and dead ends to return to the waters. Patrick’s preaching of Christ was for the baptized to walk in the newness of life in Christ as a baptized son or daughter. Bishop Patrick’s preaching of Jesus Christ was for the pagan to come to the waters, to bind unto themselves the strong Name of the Holy Trinity. Jesus Christ commanded His Church to baptize in the Name of the Holy Trinity, not in the Church’s name,nor Patrick’s nor Luther’s, for that matter. The baptism mission of the Church is obviously not fads and fashions, techniques and clever tactics to “get people into Church”. The Baptism is always into Jesus Christ and His Cross (see Romans 6: 1ff).
Patrick did not water down Holy Baptism! He did not water down the doctrine and practice of the Church to “reach people”. His goal was not ‘outreach’ to people but preach the Word so that people call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved, and that means: Holy Baptism. Patrick knew that he was a “jar of clay” (see 2 Corinthians 4:7), as he knew that the surpassing power was the Lord’s, the One who baptized him:
Whence I, once rustic, exiled, unlearned, who does not know how to provide for the future, this at least I know most certainly that before I was humiliated I was like a stone Lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me up, and raised me aloft, and placed me on the top of the wall. And therefore I ought to cry out aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits here and in eternity—benefits which the mind of men is unable to appraise.
The Church wears the “green” day in and day out, in the bloom of summer, in the dead of winter: greening in the watering of His forgiveness by His grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8). When we forget our baptismal sojourn in the Holy Spirit and in His Word the Holy Scriptures, then we are lost. Patrick had a strong faith in the strong Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He was no debater of the age, but proclaimer of the age to come. Yes, wear the green today but do not forget to pray and make the sign of the Cross giving thanks to Lord our God, for the missionary bishop who baptized many. The Lord’s Cross points us home to the Holy Trinity. From Patrick’s Confession:
In the light, therefore, of our faith in the Trinity I must make this choice, regardless of danger I must make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, without fear and frankly I must spread everywhere the name of God so that after my decease I may leave a bequest to my brethren and sons whom I have baptised in the Lord—so many thousands of people
(More on St. Patrick here and here)