Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reflection on St. Patrick's Day

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need,
The wisdom of my god to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The Word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
--St. Patrick's Lorica

Amidst the music, the corned beef and the beer dyed green, there is the story of the saint who gives us this holiday where we all declare ourselves Irish.
St. Patrick didn't think much about God when he was a teenager. It wasn't his thing, even though his dad was a deacon. But at 16, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken to the Emerald Isle where he was sold into slavery. He escaped six years later, and made his way to a port town where he convinced sailors to take him back to England, a much changed man. He entered the priesthood,and was later elevated to bishop and sent back to Ireland. There, through his missionary work, he established a school and helped Christianity to take root. It was his victory over paganism that supposedly inspired the poem "St. Patrick's Lorica (breast plate)".

As I looked at the readings assigned for his day in the Episcopal Church, I was drawn to the gospel lesson which comes at the very end of Matthew. Jesus tells the disciples, "I will be with you always to the end of the age." It made me reflect upon St. Patrick's time in slavery when he really hadn't believed in God. And I wondered if in his conversion he hadn't come to see that promise as something that was for real in his life. That, even in the moments when he might have thought he would never see his family again, there was a glimmer of hope that let him know "this too shall pass".
Those words from Matthew are the ones that often crop up in my heart during those times when I am in greatest doubt or feeling discouraged. They have been helpful to me when I've been locked in struggles for human rights for LGBT people, which feels not like a literal slavery, but as if we are under a yoke of oppression from those who want to deny us our full humanity. Knowing that Jesus (God) is present and is watching and moving through the muck made by humankind to get us all to a different place is a comfort. The more I trust in that promise, the more I am able to endure life’s abundant challenges.
O God who guides us with a light upon our path in times of darkness; lead us and teach us trust in the promise that we will never be alone in this journey into eternal life; through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, the blessed Trinity. Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We all must be trusting in this day and age with so much horror around us! I do hope that the luck of the Irish some how reaches out to the people of the world in Japan and Libya. God take care of them all. Happy St. Patrick's Day!