Being Intentional About St. Patrick’s Day

I grew up not thinking much about St. Patrick’s Day, other than it being a day that you wore green to school so that you wouldn’t get pinched. When I got older, I observed that it was a day that people got drunk on green beer. And that sadly pretty much sums up my knowledge of St. Patrick up until this year.

I have mentioned a time or two that I enjoy listening to podcasts by Pastor Chris Seay of Ecclessia Church. A few months ago I listened to a sermon he did last year about the Celtic Way of Evangelism, and it completely opened my eyes to the amazing story of St. Patrick and the Celtic Christians. (He also mentioned that there is a book called The Celtic Way of Evangelism. I have added it to my ever-growing list of books to read.)

To basically sum up the story of St. Patrick for those of you who don’t know…

St. Patrick was born in Briton under Roman rule. As a teenager, he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland to be a slave, and then sold to a landowner to be a shepherd. In those fields, he prayed to God day and night. God spoke to him that it was time for him to escape, and that he would have a ship waiting for him. Back in Europe, Patrick decided to devote his life to God, and studied to become a priest. He later had another dream in which God revealed to him that he was to go back to Ireland to convert the Irish to Christianity. Once in Ireland, he took some bold steps of faith in order to come before the King and receive his blessing to spread the Gospel throughout Ireland. Slowly but surely, Ireland became a Christian nation. One of his methods of evangelism, was to use the shamrock to teach about the Trinity saying, “There is one stem, but three leaves from the same stem, just as there is one God, but three persons, stemming from the same divinity.”

(You can find the complete story here.)

The Celtic Christians of that region later became known as people of great hospitality and welcome. They took Hebrews 13:2 very seriously, as it says…

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels unaware.”

After learning all of these things, I really wanted to be intentional about how our family observed St. Patrick’s Day this year and in the future, making sure to teach the boys the real story of St. Patrick, in addition to the other fun ways we traditionally celebrate with kids.

So here is how we celebrated…

On Friday, I told Buddy the story of St. Patrick and that we would be celebrating the following day.

On Saturday for breakfast, I made “Green Eggs and Ham”. I basically just baked eggs mixed with a little green food coloring in a muffin tin, and served them on an English Muffin with ham circles.

Unfortunately, my picky eaters would not even try them. No matter how many times I coaxed with…

You do not like them.SO you say.Try them! Try them!And you may.Try them and you may I say.

We also picked out green clothes to wear for the day. Buddy actually has a “Green Lantern” inspired outfit from H&M so he was set, but Little Man only had a Toy Story shirt with a picture of Rex the dinosaur. I had a knitting class at the church that morning, and Phillip had a meeting to attend, so the boys came with me. While we were there, the senior adults invited us to stay for their St. Patrick’s Day luncheon. They went all out with St. Patrick’s Day decorations, hats, and corned beef. They even had Irish music playing in the background. One of the men gave Little Man his green hat, so he had a little more green on.

After the luncheon, we came back home and they played in our new “cloud dough” bin (which I will blog about  later this week).

I had also purchased black wrist warmers with shamrocks on them at Kroger the night before. Little Man wasn’t interested in wearing them, but Buddy wore them most of the day, because he is a huge fan of wrist warmers. (He actually wore them to church yesterday too.) I used those wrist warmers to teach Buddy about the three parts of the Trinity, just as St. Patrick did.

I had planned our big celebration of the day to be a traditional Irish meal shared with friends, in the practice of hospitality and welcome. I checked out a lot of different recipes, and I decided to go with Irish Lamb Stew and Irish Potato Bread (Farls).

Buddy helped me wash and cut up vegetables. He’s a great help in the kitchen.

As we blessed our meal, Phillip prayed the beautiful prayer of St. Patrick.

May the Strength of God pilot us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Host of God guard us.
Against the snares of the evil ones.
Against temptations of the world
May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!
May Thy Salvation, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and evermore. Amen.

I am so excited to say that the meal was delicious! (It was a little unnerving to invite someone over to eat something I had never prepared before.)

We ended the day with Shamrock Shakes, which was basically ice cream blended with milk and a little green food coloring, topped with whipped cream and chopped chocolate mint candies. Served with green straws of course!

I am really pleased with how our day went. We didn’t talk about leprechauns or rainbows, but I still feel like the boys had a traditional “American” experience with wearing green and talking about the shamrocks. Most importantly, I feel like I was able to emphasize the things that were important for me – the ministry of St. Patrick, the use of the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and the ministry of hospitality and welcome. I know the boys didn’t quite understand all of it, but I also know that I am planting seeds of God’s love in their hearts, and that those seeds will grow and flourish with time if I remain faithful to the task.

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  1. says:

    This is wonderful! I knew the history but never linked it up before. Great suggestions to keep in mind as my little guy gets older…so excited about new ways to “Celebrate with meaning” with him.

  2. jackandellasmum says:

    these are great ideas! even living in ireland and celebrating this day for years I still struggle to integrate it with my kids (usually we just watch the veggie tales version of st patrick – on sumo of the opera :)). Thanks for giving me some goals for next year!

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