A Time Honored Tradition

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

Approaching the one year mark of managing the Covid pandemic, and this being the month of March,  I’m reminded of the story of St. Patrick. St. Patrick’s Day is more than just a day to wear green,  it should be a time to honor and review the ways in which God has directed us to share the gospel and examine our methods.

Certainly, in the midst of so many changes, we can make the most of our time to reflect and remember. While there is a common misconception that St. Patrick was Irish, since he is the patron saint of Ireland, he was actually born in England. Captured at age 16 by Irish raiders and taken as a slave, he ended up living in Ireland for 6 years before escaping and returning to his native England. Working as a herdsman, he prayed daily and after a dream telling him his boat was ready, Patrick traveled over 200 miles to find a ship docked at port. After entering the Church, he became an ordained bishop and returned to Ireland, but not much is known about the places he ministered specifically.

Legends have developed around St. Patrick, such as the more commonly known Shamrock as an explanation for the Trinity. While these stories can’t be substantiated, St. Patrick is worthy of his title because of his ministry. Here is a man that returned to his captor’s land in the attempt to spread the gospel message. St. Patrick’s ministry gave rise to what is now referred to as the Celtic Christian approach.

In his time, the Anglican Church method of evangelism was to get people in the church first, then the door would be open for them to become Christian and fellowship would begin. This is still a common practice, that the church is the center of religious life and practice, but that has changed a bit lately, which leads us again to St. Patrick. His ministry became known as the Celtic approach because it sought to begin fellowship before one was brought into the church.

Many Christians today would do well to remember St. Patrick for his inventive technique. When presented with his circumstances, he adapted and developed new techniques for sharing the gospel fresh and new. While the official church of England was concerned with drawing people in, then getting to know them, the Celtic approach was to fellowship with people, begin a relationship, and create the window for Jesus to enter in once the foundation was established.

In the midst of so much change in our lives, let us remember this faithful soul, and may we learn from his efforts as we strive to carry the gospel message to all we encounter.

— Trent Sessoms
Senior Pastor

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