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Living A Life of Worship - lessons from March 17th

How would you respond?

You are kidnapped by raiders from your life of plenty and safety, then taken to a country across the sea and doomed to life enforced servitude?

Then, you have a dream that you must escape.

You miraculously make it back home, but remain restless - "Why was I so fortunate to get away?" You might wonder if you were made for a greater purpose. "How shall I live my life in light of such rescue?"

Here's the amazing story of what one person did...

Acknowledging the grace of almighty God who brought him through trial to this place,

he commits to serving him and to go across another sea to be trained in seminary.

He then feels compelled to return to the violent, pagan land of his enslavement by the dreams he continuously has in which Christ is sending him to them.

He seeks out his former captive and leads him to faith in Christ above all of the pantheon of their pagan gods.

He is taken to the Queen, and she accepts the Gospel of Christ as well, giving an open door to preach the message to all of her subjects. They, too, embrace the cross and forsake their pagan deities.

He sets up a community that is focused on preserving the Word of God by making beautiful copies of the scriptures - knowing he and his brethren are the more or less the only ones who can read them.

He teaches its precepts to the people. They live them to, and among, the people.

The Movement Grows

They then launch communities throughout the land and see the entire nation converted as they witness lives displaying the Gospel and its peace and grace.

He and his brethren then take their 'way' back to his home nation, establishing similar communities and seeing similar results (this is one of the earliest successful church-planting programs, by the way!).

Next up is the great former empire across the water, that has fallen into a dark age of learning and returned to its pagan deities. Same result... over the next 2 centuries, communities are established that become significant cities in the course of history.

All of this because he responded to the grace of God by devoting his life to the Kingdom and was courageous enough to face his former enemies and make them his brothers.

This was the real story of St Patrick. It’s often lost in the celebration of all things green and Irish, and in legends about three-leaf clovers and banishing snakes. But there’s a bigger story to remember – of a gospel message of forgiveness and freedom that transformed the Irish and reawakened the faith of a continent in his day.

We may not all be called to be the leading missionary of a global movement, but we ARE called to live out our Sunday songs the rest of the week as an act of thanksgiving for our rescue! That is our 'latriea' - life worship, as Paul reminds us in Romans 12:1...

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (NIV)

Known as The Breastplate, here is Patrick's stirring 5th C. prayer, the strength of his daily living:

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through a belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness

Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today

Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,

Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,

Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,

Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today

Through the strength of the love of cherubim,

In obedience of angels,

In service of archangels,

In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,

In the prayers of patriarchs,

In preachings of the apostles,

In faiths of confessors,

In innocence of virgins,

In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today

Through the strength of heaven;

Light of the sun,

Splendor of fire,

Speed of lightning,

Swiftness of the wind,

Depth of the sea,

Stability of the earth

Firmness of the rock.

I arise today

Through God's strength to pilot me;

God's might to uphold me,

God's wisdom to guide me,

God's eye to look before me,

God's ear to hear me,

God's word to speak for me,

God's hand to guard me,

God's way to lie before me,

God's shield to protect me,

God's hosts to save me

From snares of the devil,

From temptations of vices,

From every one who desires me ill,

Afar and anear,

Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,

Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,

Against incantations of false prophets

Against black laws of pagandom,

Against false laws of heretics,

Against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ shield me today

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,

Christ in the eye that sees me,

Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through a belief in the Threeness,

Through a confession of the Oneness

Of the Creator of creation.

NOTE - For an excellent overview of Patrick's life and the success of his mission, you can read Thomas Cahill's How The Irish Saved Civilization (Anchor Books, New York, 1995).

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