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SAINT PATRICKíS DAY: THE TRINITY
Scott Bayles, pastor
First Christian Church, Rosiclare, IL

Saint Patrickís Day is just around the corner and, of course, in our modern-American celebration that basically means lots of drinking and the occasional pinching of those who forgot to wear green. Itís really disappointing that Saint Patrickís Day has regressed in many parts of the world to a celebration of Irish beer, but in Ireland itself it is still celebrated as a religious holiday by both the Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland. Whatís really disappointing is that many people, even Christians, donít have a clue what Saint Patrickís Day is really all about.

Patrick was born in Berniae. Since his father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest, Patrick had a very religious upbringing. But when he was about sixteen, he was out working in his fatherís field when Irish militia raided the land. Patrick was kidnapped and carried off as a slave to Ireland. There, he worked as a herdsman, remaining a captive for six years. During that time he writes that his faith grew and that he prayed daily. After six years he finally escaped by stowing away on a ship, traveling more than two-hundred miles, and finally returning home. When he was of age, he followed in his fatherís and grandfatherís footsteps, eventually becoming a Bishop in the church. But in the latter half of his life, Patrick felt called to become a missionaryóto go back to the land in which he had been a slave and share the message of the Gospel. In latter part of the fifth century, just four hundred years or so after the death of Christ, Patrick became instrumental in bringing Christianity to Ireland.

Part of his success came through the simplicity of his message. Where others had struggled to explain the concept of the Trinity, Patrick relied on a simple illustration. Legend says that he used the shamrock, or three-leaf clover, which was a symbol of national pride in Ireland at the time, to explain the nature of the Triune God of the Bible. Each leaf is separate and distinct, yet part of a whole. Itís just one clover, yet with three individual leaves. By making that simple comparison, countless Irish men and women were able to accept the basic concept of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Saint Patrickís Day is supposed to be a celebration of the life of Saint Patrick himself, who died on March 17, as well as a celebration of the birth of Christianity in Ireland.

So, in honor of Saint Patrickís Day, I thought I would try my best to do what Patrick himself didóunpack the most complicated doctrine of the Christian faith. And just as there are three leaves to a shamrock and three Persons in the Trinity, Iíd like to break this