Summary: A mid-week interactive message on St. Patrick's Day for an inner-city mission.

[This is a mid-week interactive homily given at an inner city mission on March 8, 2016. The factual stuff about St. Patrick's Day was from Wikipedia.]

What special day is coming up very soon? It’s not necessarily a major holiday, but it’s still important to a lot of folks.

St. Patrick’s Day. What do you think of when you think of St. Patrick’s Day? Green beer? Shamrocks? 4 leaf clovers? Too much drinking?

Does anyone here have relatives in Ireland? Or family? Has anyone been there? Barbara and I visited Ireland in 2012. We stayed in Dublin, and travelled north toward Belfast.

March 17 marks the traditional death death of St. Patrick, the foremost Saint. of Ireland. It’s a public holiday in Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland (the south) and in Newfoundland and Labrador.

One group has been lobbying to have St. Patrick’s Day declared a national holiday for years. Any guesses who? The makers of Guinness beer.

Even astronauts on board the International Space Station have celebrated the festival. Irish-American Catherine Coleman played a hundred-year-old while floating weightless in the space station on Saint Patrick's Day in 2011.

Patrick was a 5th-century Roman-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family.

His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland.

He spent six years there working as a shepherd and that during this time he "found God".

God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.

According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.

He spent many years evangelising in the northern half of Ireland and converted "thousands".

One account says that Patrick's efforts to convert and drive off the Celts were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove "snakes" out of Ireland. That’s because it is believed that Ireland never had any snakes.

What colour do people wear on St. Patrick’s Day?

Green. St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leafed plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the people of Ireland.

There has been a parade held in Toronto since at least 1863. The Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team was known as the Toronto St. Patricks from 1919 to 1927, and wore green jerseys.

In 1999, when the Maple Leafs played on Saint Patrick's Day, they wore green Saint Patrick's retro uniforms.

There is a large parade in our downtown core on Sunday prior to 17 March which attracts over 100,000 spectators

Here’s a quote I found that I thought was good for us to hear today: “St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time - a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic”. ~Adrienne Cook

Spring is around the corner. They’re saying all of March is going to be nice weather. What hopes do you have for the Spring? It’s a good time to dream about new ideas, new directions. Spiritually too, it can be a time to think about renewal; doing things differently, not staying with the same old same old.

We can think about newness of life, being uplifted by God who cares for us. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ.

This speaks of being made new, of being refreshed from the inside out by opening our hearts and our lives to God.

When we do that for real, good things happen. The old ways go, and new ways of living and of thinking that are much more positive become part of our daily journey.

God makes us new because often the old part of us is at odds with God. We don’t care about Him, or we just have issues with Him or with the church or whatever.

If that’s old news to you, maybe it’s time to think differently. That passage says we can be reconciled to God. We can have peace with God.

We can live in the here and now with that peace, peace that passes understanding.

May we dream. And may we include God in our dreams. May we choose to walk in newness of life with God,saying yes to all that God has done in Jesus Christ for us. Jesus went to the cross to reconcile us to God.

He gave His life for us to bring us near to God who loves us with an eternal love. Spring is just around the corner. Let’s walk into Spring grateful for what we have and hopeful for tomorrow.

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