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Historical Background of Patrick:
Patrick lived in the fifth century, a time of rapid change and transition. In many ways we might say that those times of turbulence and uncertainty were not unlike our own. The Roman Empire was beginning to break up, and Europe was about to enter the so-called Dark Ages. Rome fell to barbarian invaders in 410. Within ten years of that time, the Roman forces began to leave Britain to return to Rome to defend positions back home. Life, once so orderly and predictable under Roman domination, now became chaotic and uncertain. Patrick entered the world of that time (Joyce).
Partick’s biography is as follows: By Anita Mc Sorley
The uncontested, if somewhat unspecific, biographical facts about Patrick are as follows: Patrick was born Patricius somewhere in Roman Britain to a relatively wealthy family. He was not religious as a youth and, in fact, claims to have practically renounced the faith of his family. While in his teens, Patrick was kidnapped in a raid and transported to Ireland, where he was enslaved to a local warlord and worked as a shepherd until he escaped six years later. He returned home and eventually undertook studies for the priesthood with the intention of returning to Ireland as a missionary to his former captors. It is not clear when he actually made it back to Ireland, or for how long he ministered there, but it was definitely for a number of years. By the time he wrote the Confession and the "Letter to Coroticus," Patrick was recognized by both Irish natives and the Church hierarchy as the bishop of Ireland. By this time, also, he had clearly made a permanent commitment to Ireland and intended to die there. Scholars have no reason to doubt that he did. He died on March 17 the day we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
[Illustration – Twinkies and Root Beer - unknown source]
A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of Root Beer and he started his journey.
When he had gone about three blocks, he met an elderly man. The man was sitting in the park just feeding some pigeons.
The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the man looked hungry, so he offered him a Twinkie.
The man gratefully accepted it and smiled at boy. His smile was so pleasant that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer.
Again, the man smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.
As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the man, and gave him a hug. The man gave him his biggest smile ever.
When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy?
"He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? God’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!"
Meanwhile, the elderly man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked," Dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?"
He replied, "I ate Twinkies in the park with God." However, before his son responded, he added," You know, he’s much younger than I expected."
As we near the end of this transition, as things start coming into place, isn’t it a good time to turn away from our wants and desires and instead trust in the Lord to renew our strength even if its just with Twinkies and root beer?
The prophet Isaiah goes as far as to say…
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is an everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, and his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youth will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)
In the midst of transition, it is better to keep our priorities on God’s will rather than our own.
Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. Its the transition thats troublesome.
PRAISE HIM IN MY HEART
Praise God for Christmas.
Praise Him for the incarnation,
for the word made flesh.
I will not sing of shepherds
watching flocks on frosty nights,
or angel choristers.
I will not sing of a stable bare in Bethlehem,
or lowing oxen,
wise men trailing star with gold,
frankincense, and myrrh.
Tonight I will sing praise to the Father
who stood on heaven’s threshold
and said farewell to his Son
as he stepped across the stars
to Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
And I will sing praise to the infinite, eternal Son,
Jay Fondren is a recent hero. When my wife Christina was an auditor for the Department of Veterans she met Jay in a Veteran’s Regional Office in Waco, Texas. She was conducting interviews to determine the timeliness of transition between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs for combat wounded veterans.
Jay had recently recovered from injuries he received in Iraq when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device. Jay lost one leg just above the knee, the other just below the hip, and his thumb. Not to mention internal injuries too. While Jay was a little boy, his grandfather W. J. Fondren taught him to salute and march.
This was great fun, for that grandfather was a retired Master Sergeant from the Army Air Force. Jay and his sisters would march around the grandparent’s house wearing his army caps, marching and saluting.
Jay joined the army in January 2000. He did his Basic Training at Ft. Sill, Ok. He served with the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, 1st Calvary Division, out of Ft. Hood. Jay was injured the day before Thanksgiving, 2004.
His body has changed, his spirit has not. He is still loving and thoughtful, alert and witty, brave and loyal, positive and faithful. Jay is working hard and looking forward to rehab and a bright future.
Jay has a new mission in life…to be an advocate and educator for veterans. To walk along side of someone as they rejoin their families and friends after being a witness to the horrific events that take place in war.
This literally starts with baby steps as he learns to walk again with artificial legs. Jay has a passion that without the peace and comfort of Jesus Christ he would not be able to be a father to his two small children or a husband to his wife.
Jay faithfully follows the Lord. While we learn much from his example of bravery and courage in battle, we can learn even more from his commitment for the future. Jay is hero not only for what he has done, but even more, because of what he is doing.
For his bravery in combat Jay received the Bronze Star along with the Purple Heart for combat injuries. For his continued bravery in life, Jay has earned the respect and admiration of many.
Even though Jay is wounded and to look at him is a constant reminder of the wounds which were inflicted upon him in battle, Jay is a wounded warrior. Jay is still a peacemaker in this world. There is much that we can learn from his example and bravery to continue to be a peacemaker in a world which is filled with strife at seemingly every turn.
In Paul Tournier’s A Place for You, the famous author has depicted our Christian hope as a leap of faith. He said that we live in a rhythm of life between quitting one place and seeking another. He used the analogy of a trapeze artist swinging on a high bar to the utmost distance it can carry him, then turning loose and reaching hopefully and courageously for the next bar. There is a breathless suspense of mid-air placelessness. This is the anxiety of faith. It calls for hope. Everyone is holding his breath -- the artist as well as the watching crowd -- until the transition is safely made. The transition will never be made unless the trapeze artist (or the person of faith) find enough hope to let go of the past and take the leap of faith.
We know our future includes a promise. But we do not know how to transition into that promise. Maybe ’not knowing’ is just an excuse – we just straight out refuse to take that next step. That’s because while we are in the present, we often permit the past to occupy and govern our emotions. We drag on baggages of guilt. We let past failures convince us that we can never succeed. Then we linger in self pity, feeling victimized and blaming history for robbing us of prosperity. We dwell in the old and refuse to grow in the new. We might even question whether we should have left the past behind, challenging the efforts of today, doubting the promise of tomorrow.
That was the way with the Israelites. 430 years of slavery under the Egyptians, their miseries and suffering believe it or not, seem preferable in times of – waiting. Then all of a sudden things looked comfortable and conformable. The enormity of how God brought them out was no contest to what used to be in their hearts – complacency in the midst of deprivation. They were in horrid condition but became so accustomed therefore the past became like a wound that itches and they keep scratching and never heal. A little inconvenience and a tiny test of food and water was enough to blame, to threaten and to defile the greatness of the Lord.
Waiting on the Lord means surrendering everything to his plans. We may not know what the plans are. But we take comfort that whatever they are, the Lord will never fail us - never! Waiting means we do not try to control the desired outcome. That’s not waiting. That’s interfering. Patience requires focus, discipline and following. The absence of these leads to rebellion.
The root of self pity and victimization is self-righteousness.
"Nothing grows under a banyan tree." This South Indian proverb speaks of leadership styles. The banyan is a great tree. It spreads its branches, drops air-roots, develops secondary trunks and covers the land. A full grown banyan may cover more than an acre of land. Birds, animals, and humans find shelter under its shade. But nothing grows under its dense foliage, and when it dies, the ground beneath lies barren and scorched.
The banana tree is the opposite. Six months after it sprouts, small shoots appear around it. At twelve months a second circle of shoots appear beside the first ones, now six months old. At eighteen months the main trunk bears bananas which nourish birds, animals, and humans, and then it dies. But the first offspring are now full grown, and in six months they too bear fruit and die. The cycles continue unbroken as new sprouts emerge every six months, grow, give birth to more sprouts, bear fruit, and die.
THE OLD RUGGED CROSS
About an hour away from where I used to live in Coventry (England), there is a little village called Bredwardine. It is in the county of Herefordshire. A lady who attended the Anglican Church in that village died, and in her will she left some money for the Church. As well as the money she left some instructions on how to spend it: she asked that the old battered and dishevelled cross that sat on the altar be sent to a jewelers to be cleaned and restored.
So the cross was sent off to a jewelers and when it was returned, they discovered this old tarnished cross was actually made of solid silver. They also discovered that upright and the cross-piece were studded with emeralds.
The cross no longer stands on the altar; it is kept in a safe and is only brought out when a service is about to take place.
Transition: What many thought to be a worthless object was actually a very valuable and precious item!
THE SUBSTANCE OF FAITH
Example: Give some play-doh to 2 people and ask them to create something out of that "substance"
In the millennia-old Aristotelian tradition, as well as early modern traditions that follow it, substances or ousia are treated as having attributes and modes or things.
This concept helps to explain, for instance, state transitions. Let us take a quantity of water and freeze it into ice. Substance theory maintains that there is a "substance" which is unchanged through this transition, which is both the liquid water and also the frozen ice. It maintains that the water is not replaced by the ice – it is the same "stuff," or substance. If this is true, then it must be the case that the wetness of water, the hardness of ice, are not essential to the underlying substance. (Essentially, matter does not disappear, it only changes form.)
According to the Bible Faith is THE substance of THINGS we hope for.