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Its Not All About Beer and Obnoxious Behavior

June 28, 2014

He is among the greatest of Christian saints. His feast day is known well beyond the boundaries of the Christian church. With the possible exception of St. Nicholas, he is celebrated more lavishly and unfortunately more obnoxiously in the major cities of the United States than any other saint. Each March 17, parades, Celtic music, the wearing of green, and oceans of beer commemorate the memory of St. Patrick, the legendary apostle to Ireland. Though his life is largely unknown to us, what we do know tells us that Patrick was an awe-inspiring man. This story goes beyond the shallow pride of celebrating ones ethnic origins.

St. Patrick lived a rugged life, evangelized Ireland with beer and miracles, and eventually fought the raging enemy that comes for us all in the night. And he won. No it was not militarized police or DEA agents, but something similar. Look it up. I will give you a clue, Patrick was not born an Irishman.

The beer part of the story is fascinating. Patrick did not form a 700 Club style propaganda program denouncing paganism. Instead, he went tribe to tribe, chieftain by chieftain, building friendships and winning trust. Once he had that trust, he planted Christian communities among the tribes, and these in turn converted entire regions with holy living, miracles, generosity, healthy families, and prosperous farms. Beer also played a role.

Always at this side was his personal brewmaster, a man named Mescan. Patrick won many a chieftain by sharing the superior beer Mescan had developed.  When the chieftains saw this superior man named Patrick, took note of his superior way of living, and even tasted a superior quality in the beer Patrick offered them, it all seemed confirmation of the gospel Patrick preached. The Irish converted by the thousands.

Apparently, beer also played a role in some of the miracles Patrick performed. According to popular Irish legend, when the apostle once dined with the high king of Tara attempted to poison Patrick, but instead, Patrick blessed the pitcher of beer, inverted it, the poison fell out without wasting a drop of ale and proceeded to drink the beer afterwards.

We dont know with certainty if Patrick did all the great deeds legends records. Did his staff grow into a tree? Did he drive snakes out of Ireland? Did he use the shamrock to teach the Irish about the trinity? We simply cant be sure. We do know, though, that Patrick courageously strolled into violent pagan villages, befriended the chieftain, won both the man and the tribe with hospitality, served the needy, and by the end of his life had drawn most of Ireland to the gospel of Jesus Christ. What a life!

 

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