Last week we decided to recapture a holy day. That holy day was March 17. That is the day over 1,500 years ago that a man named Patrick died. I’m speaking of course about St. Patrick. With all the revelry celebrated on this day we felt the holiness of that day needed to be recaptured by helping people to be aware of the true story of St. Patrick. Here was a man who was kidnapped as a teen, sold into slavery in a foreign land, escaped slavery and was able after six years to return home, and then after time studying the Gospel in order to prepare himself for God’s work go back to the land of his captivity and preach the Gospel to his barbarian captors. The best of all is that it’s a true story. St. Patrick graphically lived out the 21st verse from Philippians chapter 1, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Sometimes I think we all feel like we are experiencing difficult times. The fact of the matter we many times are. It’s just that remembering our friend and Christian brother, although it doesn’t make all the bad stuff go away, it serves to help give us the right perspective to be victorious in it. If I can like St. Patrick embrace the breadth of that verse and make it the tempo of my life, I know that my life will be a fragrance to the Lord.
This last year we buried another of our own, Doren Ellis. After we finished the memorial service we proceeded to the Dry Creek Cemetery. There was already a headstone resting between two graves. One of those graves was for Doren’s body. Not that long ago Doren’s sweetheart Lorraine was buried in the other one. As I walked around to the face of that tombstone, what I saw gave me the chills in a good way. I read,”In Him we live and move and have our being.” Doren was so proud of that tombstone. It was in its own way his declaration that, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
My life is moved by these declarations. My year of 2011 will be shaped by them. I invite my brothers and sisters to join with me in letting those declarations not only be ours, but may we live out this year in their fullness.