There are so many myths and superstitions around St. Patrcik on this day, but I consider him in my top 5 heroes of all time. Why? Well, here's why:
1) He loved the Irish. He was English, as a slave in Ireland, he fell in love with the people there. Later in life, he went back as a missionary to them. He loved the people he felt called to serve, that's lesson #1 for ministry.
2) He thought differently. No suprise I love this. He got outside the walls of the Roman Catholic Church designed for Europe and incarnated the Gospel in a way they could understand. He used the 3 leaf clover to describe the Trinitarian God, that's genius. He used something they loved to let them know God has been with them all along.
3) He was passionate. He was constantly on the run for his life from those who opposed his work. None of that stopped him, his passion and courage won the day.
4) He organized Christian communities into small, networked clans, instead of building catehdrals for all to come to. First off, they didn't have the road system of modern Europe and Ireland was already organized in these kind of family structures. He used it, tied it to Authentic Christian Community and thus road them to one of the most explosive growth generations in the history of the Church. Patrick's clan structure was hugely influential to me in organizing Ordinary Community Church as it is today.
5) He used his right brain, the creative, imaginative side. I was taught ministry mostly from the left brain, rational and knowledge based. But I'm an Irishman and sometimes my heart wants to jump out of my chest and at times, alone in my car, I'm known to still let out primal screams. I cannot express my Christianity in only rational means, I need heart expression. Ministry is relational and often more art than science.
6) St. Patrick was a leader in his time. He died enough to himself to go do something different without caring what others thought. That's my model.
I love Celtic Christianity. It breathes in me. My ancestors are from Northern Ireland, strongly protestant and stubborn. There was a time in my life where I wanted to leave all forms of ministry forever. It was in this time that I discovered the real St. Partick in history and Celtic Christianity. St. Patrick and his ideas saved my life some 1400 years later.
Today I honor you, St. Patrick. I'm doing what I can to carry the banner of Christ amongst us, in us, by us and through us.
Celebrate the real St. Patrick today.