I am not saying this is a good thing, but it is Wisconsin. Beer is part of the culture (which is many times problematic). Green beer, green water (the picture at right is Chicago, I think) green decorations of shamrocks and leprechauns in green hats abound right now in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois. No, the upper Midwest is not known for it's Irish population, except Milwaukee, Chicago and other large cities. We are mostly German and Scandinavian around these parts of Wisconsin.
But winter is long and green is slow in coming, so St. Patrick's Day is an excuse for a party, I suppose.
At Jubilee Church this Sunday we will be hosting an unusual guest, fellow A/G guy, Jeff Pockat, a player of the ancient Gaelic harp. I'll share some history about the real Patrick and some wisdom from the great man himself. And after church we will gather in our basement fellowship area, which will be properly decked out in green for the occasion, to eat corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. We will all enjoy the first green of spring. No, not green beer. We are Assemblies of God folk, not Catholics, for crying out loud! :-) The first green is on the tables as we poke shamrocks in our table decorations, set out our green place mats and drink green Kool-Ade. After the corned beef we will likely eat something green for dessert too.
The real Patrick is somewhat of a mystery. He was born in Britain and was carried to Ireland as a slave. Much of what we think we know about him is actually legend. However, what we do know is pretty impressive. His "Confessions" have been discovered, and they reveal a great deal about the heart and spirit of this remarkable missionary. Here are a few quotes.
“I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many...people. We deserved this fate because we turned away from God; we neither kept his commandments nor obeyed our pastors who used to warn us about our salvation” (Confessions 1).
While Patrick was working as a shepherd in Ireland he underwent a conversion experience. He wrote, “The Lord...made me aware of my unbelief that I might at last [admit] to my sins and turn wholeheartedly to the Lord. He showed concern for my weakness and pity for my youth and ignorance; he watched over me before I got to know him and before I was able to distinguish good from evil. In fact he protected me and comforted me as a father would his son.”
He became a man of deep prayer. “After I had come to Ireland I daily used to feed cattle, and I prayed frequently during the day; the love of God and the fear of Him increased more and more, and faith became stronger, and [my} spirit was stirred...before daylight I used to rise to prayer, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm. because the spirit was then fervent within me.” (Confessions 16)
While in captivity for six years he learned Irish. His master was a high priest of the Druids so he learned their sophisticated religion. This was essential to his later mission of sharing Christ with them. So God’s plan was working itself out in his life even if he could not see it at the time.
I wish you could all join us next Sunday to listen to Jeff and to hear the rest of the story. I think that Patrick would have wanted us to think of the cross when he came to mind, not shamrocks and green beer.
Anyway, Irish Day at Jubilee A/G might be destined to be one of those sure signs of spring.