Today is the day to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. While many of us, including me will wake up tomorrow with welts for not wearing green, I am green with envy about this man's missionary life.
St. Patrick was a creative missionary and reconciler, two values to Leah and I, and we can learn a lot from him.
Patrick early on was captured and enslaved by pagans in Ireland and Scotland. He escaped and returned home (with another capture having faced him on the way). There he found God or rather God found him. And what did his escape and conversion mean? It meant God sent him on a mission to the very people that Patrick had been a slave for.
This is a reconciling act - God's mission. In The Confession of St. Patrick he about floats off the page with joy for the work he's been blessed to do among the pagans, the very pagans that captured him and their surrounding tribes. Patrick was a missional missionary. He went and learned from the local tribe. He imbedded himself in the local community and lived the Christian life around these tribes. This was not without danger, as there were many hostile to the Roman-perceived religion, but he rejoices constantly in his confession despite the dangers.
A great book recommendation, besides his confession, is The Celtic Way of Evangelism, in which the author describes the work of Patrick and others in their mission to the pagans in Ireland, Scotland, Britain and Wales. Identity and solidarity were crucial to the mission.
Leah and I prepare ourselves to move to Spain. Our ultimate goal is to be so imbedded in the culture that we can live in solidarity with the madrilenos. Patrick is a good model for us to follow as missionaries and a good model for all of us disciples.
God is a reconciling God and he will use our greatest pains to impact minisistry and mission. He causes us to be reconciled to our offender and through that reconciliation, he gives us the love that allows us to minister. God reveals himself through brokenness reconciled; through love of enemy; through going and living in solidarity.