We in the church don't make much of St. Patrick's day. The March holiday conjures up images of green beer, the green river in Chicago, parades, and shamrock cookies. Fun stuff for some. Dangerous for others, as victims of binge drinking might be able to tell you if they are still with us.
Why do we celebrate this day? Who was St. Patrick? Is there any message for the church in this story?
St Patrick, or Patricius as he signed his letters, was born into a Christian family in Britain. When he was 16 years old, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland. While there, he came to the realization that Christianity was real and he converted to his family's faith. After working as a sheep herder for a miserable six years, he heard a voice telling him to escape. He eventually found a ship waiting to take him home to Britain. He finally made it back to his family and there he decided to become a priest. Later, this man was moved to become a missionary to Ireland where he brought many to the faith, possibly by using the shamrock to explain the three persons of the Trinity.
The story of Patrick is a story of two slaves: the slave of the world and the slave of Christ. Like Joseph, he was captured as a teen and sent to serve a worldly master in a strange land. His suffering brought him to surrender to his God. Now he desired to be captive to another master. Like Paul, he became “a bondservant of Jesus Christ.” He once served his cruel captors but broke free in order to serve the true, loving Master. Romans 6;18 says, “And, having been set free from sin, (you) have become slaves of righteousness.” He could have stayed in Britain living a more comfortable life but chose to give it all up to bring the gospel to a pagan nation. And that's no blarney.
– Mary Atwood