On Sunday, March 17, 1991, two weeks after I was born, I was baptized.
That day, at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Huber Heights, Ohio, “God the Father made [me] a member of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and an heir with [you] of all the treasures of heaven in the one holy Christian and apostolic Church.”
I think about what happened on that day often, remembering that I am a baptized child of God. However, sometimes when I remember that date, I am reminded of someone else.
March 17 is more popularly known as St. Patrick’s Day. This is the day that many of us might think of the color green, leprechauns, rainbows and pots of gold. St. Patrick’s Day is much more than that. It’s the day that the church celebrates Patrick, the missionary of the Irish people.
St. Patrick was born in Britain during the fourth century. When he was 16, he was captured by Irish pirates during one of their raids. After bring brought over to Ireland, he was enslaved and forced to work as a shepherd under his Irish captors. Six years later, he escaped slavery and made it back to Britain, where he became a monk.
Living among the Irish for six years gave him a vast knowledge of their language and culture, and, because of this knowledge, he felt the Lord calling him to spread the gospel, and share the joy of God’s salvation among the pagan Irish people. St. Patrick sailed to Ireland and faced the culture that had enslaved him, not with anger and malice, but with the love of Christ.
God worked through St. Patrick to bring hundreds of thousands of people into His family. God used him to establish churches, baptize men, women and children, and train priests and monks to serve the young Christian Church in Ireland.
Most importantly, God used St. Patrick to show the love He has for all of mankind. Sin made us enemies of God, and all we deserved was His divine wrath and judgment. Instead of destroying us, He loved us. In the face of our idolatry, God sent His only Son to take upon all of our sin, and suffer for them all in our place.
God used St. Patrick to illustrate His great love for the Irish people. St. Patrick was taken from his home, force to work, and treated like he was nothing. In the face of the people who treated him horribly, God gave St. Patrick the courage and strength to share the blessings of God’s love.
Which is what God does through you.
Baptized into God’s family, you are washed clean of your sins. Christ now dwells in you, and you in Him. God uses you to be an example of His love just like He used St. Patrick. “God the Father made you a member of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and an heir with us of all the treasures of heaven in the one holy Christian and apostolic Church.”
As a child of God, you are given the courage and strength to spread the gospel, and share the joy of God’s salvation.
Rev. Dustin Atkinson is the pastor of Star of the North Lutheran Church, 216 N. Forest Drive. Sunday school and bible study at 9:30 am with Divine Service at 11 a.m. every Sunday. Visit sotnlc.org for more information, like the schedule for Lenten and Holy Week services.
• By REV. DUSTIN ATKINSON, For the Peninsula Clarion