Kids of many ages recognize the title as a song about our favorite cloth frog, Kermit. But I’m not talking about a puppet, or even about frogs. The “green” I speak about today is the color of Tuesday, March 17, that is, St. Patrick’s Day.
Throughout the past week people across the country have been making themselves “green” to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Too bad their celebrations had nothing at all in common with the man who inspired the holiday. Once again, modern ideas seem to trump the truth.
Young Patrick was born around A.D. 370 as Maewyn Succat in Banna Venta Berniae, Britain, today known as Wales. His parents were Romans living in Wales. At the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by raiding Celts and taken to Ireland, where he was pressed into service.
Although pagan at the time, during his captivity Patrick began to have religious dreams and visions. About six years later, he saw his way home in a dream and escaped from Ireland. Back home, Patrick dedicated his life to God’s service. After his training, Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary, bringing faith in Christ to the Emerald Isle. For 30 years Patrick taught Christ throughout Ireland, bringing Christianity to many who had never before heard the gospel. Significance of the shamrock? It is said that Patrick used the tri-part leaf to teach about the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
So, if you painted yourself green, or wore green clothing, or drank green beer or some other beverage, you were celebrating something much different than the real St. Patrick. I’m not suggesting we cancel the parades and parties, just that emulating the real St. Patrick isn’t as easy as “wearing the green.”
Like Kermit, in the Muppets’ song, Patrick knew he was different from those around him. The season of Lent calls us to introspection and deeper levels of faith commitment. Although you will probably read this article after St. Patrick’s Day, why not take a moment to consider emulating the real Patrick beyond March 17?
Patrick chose the path of sacrifice in service to God. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). Paul challenged the Roman believers to make a difference in the most basic areas of their lives, how they lived each day. Want to be “green”? Take a moment to consider how you live each day and choose the path of sacrifice.
Patrick chose to reach out to the very people who held him captive. “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). Once a persecutor of Christians, a “Jew of Jews,” Paul spent his life spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, those formerly excluded from the “chosen people.” God is calling us to emulate St. Patrick by speaking words of truth and living a life of faith. As we do so, others will see Christ in us and will want to know what is different about us.
You know, Kermit was right. It isn’t easy being different. Yet, in our context, as with St. Patrick, being different has its rewards. Once you wash off the green face paint and hang up your green leprechaun hat, my prayer is that you will find the true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day in your own life.
As always, if you don’t have a church home, please consider visiting us at Ebenezer Presbyterian at 11 a.m. next Sunday. We’d love to see you. Questions or comments about this article? Let me know!
Pastor Mary Kay Glunt