Yesterday we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. Last night we grieved on the news of the destruction of culture in the bombing in Ukraine, the loss of art, of history. We celebrate the contributions of the Irish to American culture and we grieve with those who are seeing their cultural heritage destroyed. Lord have mercy!
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is believed to have died on March 17, 461. Since the 10th century the Roman Catholic Church has celebrated this saint who is actually not Irish. He was born in Roman Britain but captured and sold into slavery on a pig farm, escaped but returned to evangelize Ireland. He is credited for explaining the Trinity, the Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, by using a shamrock with three leaves that was native to Ireland. I believe he is also credited with ridding Ireland of snakes.
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not held in Ireland but in St. Augustine, Florida, March 17, 1601, by a Spanish vicar! In 1772 English military marched in a parade in New York City to honor the saint. The tradition has grown since. How very multicultural the story grows. According to the Internet the parade is “the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants.” Wow!
Today the United States is being challenged to absorb immigrants from around the world who will bring with them new traditions, foods, and language that will be absorbed into our culture. And so that thought challenges me to ask ourselves if we are “cultural Christians” or do those traditions, understandings of life and the value of people, really speak to something deeper inside how we look at the world? Lent is a time when we reflect not on Jesus as more than a healer and teacher, which indeed he was, but we also look at him starting to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven that calls us to allegiance to a God who loves all cultures and created all people. Even as St. Patrick returned to Ireland to tell his former owners about Christianity, we too today tell others about a kingdom that does not spread by bombing and destruction leaving ruined museums, rubble and death in its path. Let’s think today of a Christian tradition that means a lot to us and helps us focus on a hopeful future. Blessings.
Lenten challenge: The ELCA Hunger Appeal provides money to build concrete wells in Niger, West Africa, to help turn desert into garden plots. Give 10 cents for every garden tool your family owns.”