A number of years ago there was a character featured on Saturday Night Live, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary on TV. A depressed-looking, bug-eyed, frumpy woman named Debbie Downer had a knack for sharing negative information when others were trying to celebrate. Hang with me for a moment as this commentary starts with a Debbie Downer moment.
• Patrick was not Irish.
• As a young man he had no interest in God.
• He never drove out any snakes because there were none in Ireland.
• His use of a shamrock to teach the Trinity is cute for children but it’s just a myth.
Now I’m not a party-pooper. I enjoy a celebration but enjoy it even more when I understand what’s legitimate and what’s legend. With St. Patrick’s Day and all the green, the parades, parties with Irish stew and toasts to the “luck of the Irish,” let’s get behind the blarney to focus on an incredible man of God who transformed a nation through the proclamation of the Gospel and the planting of churches.
The Real Story of St. Patrick
Years ago when I ministered in Ireland, I recall the descent of the plane and how absolutely awestruck I was as I beheld for the first time the Emerald Isle. This deep green countryside is the picture conjured up in the hearts and minds of tens of thousands of Irish celebrants who annually dye the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day. And in celebrations throughout America this special feast day is a sign of spring, bringing welcome relief after the cold of winter.
But what’s really behind this day and the man we honor? After all, he died over 1554 years ago on, guess what, March 17th, 461.
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