Good morning on this St. Patrick’s Day of 2020.
This, undoubtedly, is unlike many/most/all St. Patrick’s Days we have encountered. Our entire world is walking through the process of a pandemic. We think of those who are sick and those who are facing that sickness head on in the world of modern medicine and government task forces. What they are encountering is beyond our scope. This leads us into a time of confusion, denial, fear, anxiety, acceptance, grieving, and understanding.
I’m not psychologist, so I cannot tell you I understand the process beyond my own experience of it and as a witness of the community and world around me. Every day brings a new feeling, a sense of awareness to what all this means, and my reactions and response. We are all walking this path in our own ways as much as we are together. It’s important to remember our connections and relationships—especially when we are unable to practice them in our normal routine of face to face gatherings. Nonetheless, we would do well to remember that we are not alone. We have more opportunity than ever to be connected through technology. It is my intent to seize this opportunity for the purpose of drawing us closer to one another and closer to God.
We need God every single day. We need prayer ever single day. Times like these remind us these simple truths. It is a strange concept to call for a particular day of prayer when we are easily reminded that every day is a day of prayer. We just get out of routine. It happens—even to pastors.
On this particular day of prayer, I want to share with you the story of St. Patrick from the Common Book of Prayer.
“At the age of sixteen, Patrick was kidnapped from his home by Irish marauders and taken to Ireland, where he was sold as a slave to a chieftain and forced to herd livestock. After six years of slavery, Patrick escaped to his native Britain. Because he believed that his captivity and deliverance were ordained by God, Patrick devoted his life to ministry. While studying for the priesthood, he experienced recurring dreams in which he heard voices say, ‘O holy youth, come back to Erin and walk once more amongst us.’ He convinced his superiors to let him return to Ireland in 432, not to seek revenge for injustice but to seek reconciliation and to spread his faith. Over the next thirty years, Patrick established churches and monastic communities across Ireland. When he was not engaged in the work of spreading the Christian faith, Patrick spent his time praying in his favorite places of solitude and retreat.”
The story of St. Patrick is inspiring and relatable. We may not quite identify with the place of dreams in our leading—despite the stories of Joseph, Pharaoh, Joseph (Jesus’ father), or Peter…to name a few—but much of his story we can. Amidst great questions and doubt, there was courageous faith. St. Patrick followed the leading of God into the most unlikely place at the most unlikely time.
We are often called back to the place where we havre experienced the most pain…whether we realize it yet or not. We all have need for reconciliation. We all have a need to bear witness to our faith. And…we all have need to pray.
We may not have the tumultuous personal reality of injustice before us in the days of COVID-19, but we do have a unique and difficult one. Where fear might discourage us, let us take heart with trust in God. In our unchosen time of solitude and retreat, let us be strengthened, encouraged, and inspired through prayer.
Perhaps this particular day of prayer provides us with a wonderful opportunity to create new tradition for St. Patrick’s Day.
I leave you with a prayer of St. Patrick.
Christ be with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Lord, if only we made ourselves as open and available as your saints of old, who knows what you might do through us! Speak to us in visions and dreams, make your will known to us, and be patient with us. Amen.