Archive for March, 2011

I just learned that this year is the 400th Anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible.  It was the translation of the Scriptures for the English-speaking world from 1611 well into the 20th century!  It is considered to be a masterpiece of translation and of our native tongue.  This was the translation from the beginning of our country by which  every school boy and girl first learned to read and would continue to so read.    Below are a couple of videos and sites in order to learn more about the King James Version.  But in these gray and latter days, it is crucial to trust that the Lord will have His Word heard, read and inwardly digested for His light of salvation in Jesus Christ to shine:

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
verse in Isaiah 40:7-9

Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word ofGod is not bound.
verse in 2 Timothy 2:8-10

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
verse in Matthew 4:3-5

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Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  The text for the Sermon is John 4:1-42.

Jeremiah 14: 8-9

O you hope of Israel,
its savior in time of trouble,
why should you be like a stranger in the land,
like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night?

He came as a stranger to Israel and to the world.  Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night as Jesus was a stranger.   He came unknown and thirsty at noon at Jacob’s well in Samaria. The Lord Who created heaven and earth was a foreigner in His own special creation and redemption, Israel.   He was then a stranger in Samaritan land as well. The Lord came to His own but His own received Him not.   But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. Those who received Him were themselves thirsting and hungering.

It is clear in the conversation that Jesus is speaking not of physical thirst and hunger but spiritual thirst and hunger, as he goes deeper into the well of salvation, His well, the Savior’s Well.  Dying of thirst and hunger is bad enough and as the Church we must serve those in need.  But even in a land of plenty, empty hearts are as bad, even more so, than empty stomachs.  A craving that can not be satisfied can eat up lives and drink to the dregs the cup of wrath.

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again…”

On the Travel Network is a show by New York chef, Anthony Bourdain, entitled “No Reservations”.  He travels around the world with a main purpose being of eating and thereby introducing the particular nation and its cultures.  His show’s intro by Mr. Bourdain:

“I’m Anthony Bourdain. I write.  I travel. I eat.  And I’m hungry for more.” For what its worth I like Mr. Bourdain.  In traveling and writing and eating, he hungers for more.  Never filled. Starving to death and dying of thirst is very clear to see but spiritual thirst and hunger is not so clearly seen. In fact, it looks good:  it looks like what we see on TV and on the net.  But note: More is never enough.  The hunger is not stilled and the thirst for life is not quenched.  It’s like the fine rock theologian sang, I can’t get no satisfaction and I’ve tried and I’ve tried. “More” is never enough. Jesus is not only speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well, or about Mr. Bourdain but you and I.  One of Luther’s opponents, Erasmus of Rotterdam said correctly:  The heart is such a spacious thing that even 600 worlds can not fill it.  We live in a “consumer culture” in which obsolescence is planned so that the items we buy will wear out quickly so we can buy a new product.  But our fellow humans know themselves and us quite well:  we actually want more and more, so yeah, let it wear out, I want something new.  We live in a “consumer society”.  Even people are consumables in our sexual lusts and “conquests”.  Even people are consumables, stepping stones for our ambitions for ‘life’. We wear out people.  The Samaritan woman had 5 husbands and her current man was not her husband.  The Samaritan woman had quite a thirst!  Note that in the conversation there is not a hint of condemnation from Jesus.  Jesus does not condemn her because He came not to condemn the world but that the world be saved through Him (John 3:17). The world is already condemned in its sin.

“(Jesus) says that visible water can quench one’s thirst for a little while, but the unseen water cures one of thirst altogether because there is not longer for a thirst for life when immortality is gushing forth on you.” (Apollarinarius of Laodicea, page 153, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scriptures (ACCS), NT IVa)

We think a thirst for life is a virtue. It is not.  The Lord knew thirst and hunger in his stomach and was tempted to use His Deity to fill it with the power and the authority as the Creator.  He did not.  He fed on God’s Word, His food.  “(Jesus) was not thirsty for the water of this world but of the redemption of the human race.”  He came to reveal the woman’s thirst and so forgive.  He will say later that the water welling up is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit witnesses and teaches Jesus Christ into our empty thirsting hearts.  At Jacob’s well near Sychar was the thirsting Savior in Whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt.  He thirsts for you.

11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? There is a better well than even Jacob’s Well.  Its water is eternal life.  He had a bucket to draw it out of the depths of salvation:  His Word.  41And many more believed because of his word. The Lord, our Good Shepherd, leads the woman to the depths of salvation.

First, she calls Him, Sir and recognizes He is a Jew. Then when He tells here “everything she ever did”, she says, You are a prophet.   Natural perception can so understand Him.

But when she turns to the conversation to the coming of the Christ, the Messiah, He says, “I who speak to you am he.” Only by His revelation does she know, and you and I, who He is.

But the Lord does not stop there nor does the Samaritan woman.  She is being quenched and goes and proclaims to her fellow Samaritan villagers Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30They went out of the town and were coming to him. She becomes the first evangelist.  Jesus then stays, abides with them in their village for two days.  42They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Notice the conversation goes from “Sir”,

to a Jew

then to a prophet.  Natural man can recognize that but then

the Messiah

then the villagers realize He is,”…the Savior of the world”.

Truly as the prophet Isaiah preached, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Is. 12: 3)

From the prophet Jeremiah:

2Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the LORD,
13for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Now a cistern is not the same as a well.  A well has a spring.  A cistern is a deep hole in the ground to collect rain water yet both are used for drinking. Many have forsaken the fountain of living waters, the Word of Law and the Word made flesh for their own self-made theological broken cisterns of relativism, deconstructionism, self-choice and self, Biblical criticism, immorality as life-style choice.  Those cisterns are the public water works of hell.  The devil loves that public water works because no one will ever be quenched.   Jesus gives the living water. Living water is water that flows in and flows out, a spring, welling up to eternal life.  Many churches have hewed out cisterns for themselves, wells they think, but they hold no water or if they do, it stagnates.  It seems to me that so much of Christianity today is such cisterns or it could be liken to a river that’s a mile wide and a foot deep.  It’s pretty but you can not get wet and refreshed and so drink of His grace and peace for dirtied and wearied men and women. A boat can not float in such a river, let alone the Ark of the Church. Jeremiah who preached to Israel regarding their broken cisterns they hewed out for themselves was not too well received in Judah.  The powers that be told the King that Jeremiah was disturbing Israel by his preaching and King said do what you want with him,

6So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud. Jeremiah 38:5-7

Jeremiah who preached that Israel had sought water in broken cisterns is in one. Poetic justice?  Or more like, ironic injustice.  They eventually pulled him out. But Jeremiah’s Lord would go to the depths Himself.  The depths of depravity and of sorrow are only met by the One who went deeper still as He was lifted up on the Cross. In the second lesson for today (Romans5:1-11), the Apostle says we were weak, enemies of God and sinners but He went down to us to raise us to live and drink of His fountain of reconciliation.  There is no place so low that the Lord has not been lower.  He was lowered into a grave.  He is risen.  I think it is good that the icon on the bulletin cover (on this posting) renders the well in the shape of a cross. And the next time we ever hear of Jesus thirsting is much later in John’s Gospel, when the Lord is on the Cross and cries, I thirst. (John 19:28) He thirsts for you to reveal your thirst and quench it and has and will.  He is fountain of living water so He fills us with the Himself and His Word.

Living water is water that flows.  There are two bodies of water in Israel: the Sea of Galilee in the north, flowing out of it the Jordan River, emptying in the Dead Sea.  The Sea of Galilee is a beautiful fresh water lake and is fresh and living because water flows in and out.  The Dead Sea is the lowest spot on earth:  no water leaves this body of water.  No life is in it.  It has so many chemicals that drinking one ounce and a person dies.  But you can float it in but not much farming around the Dead Sea, in fact, none. Water that flows in and out is living.  As Christ Jesus gave and gives you His life, the life of all the living, the Church flows out with the three-fold confession of sin, of praise and of faith:  the confession of sin,  of all which is dead and lifeless and He brings us to life in His living water again, of His forgiveness and peace in His forgiveness. The confession of praise and thanksgiving as in this Holy Communion.  Set free from sin and the devil, freed for the confession of faith:  Jesus is Lord and when called to do so to say in joy to our fellows, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

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From Martin Luther’s Catechism:

What is confession? Answer: Confession consists of two parts. One is that we confess our sins. The other is that we receive
absolution or forgiveness from the confessor as fromGod Himself, by no means doubting but firmly believing that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven.

Forgiveness and absolution are synonyms.  The root word of  “absolution” is “absolute”.  “Absolute”, as in the use of the adverb, “absolutely”, generally means concrete, certain and unmistakable.  The Lord by His Passion invites us to so receive forgiveness…absolutely.  Here is a good distinction between general and private absolution:

“The general absolution through the sermon is like a rich man throwing a large number of gold coins into a crowd with the intention of having everyone get a coin; now, whoever grasps one has one. But private absolution is like a rich man sending his servant to a timid soul who dares not seize a piece and having him press the coin into his hand.”

(Francis  Pieper, Missouri Synod Professor and Theologian, Christian Dogmatics, III, 209)

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(Jesus says) “If you wish that I give you the streams of pure water,

Go, and call your husband; I shall not imitate your reproach;

I shall not say:  “You are a woman of Samaria,

And how is it you ask for water?”  I do not increase your thirst; for I have

brought you to thirst through thirst.

I exaggerated being thirsty and I was tormented by thirst

In order that I might reveal

you as thirsty—

Go, then and call your husband and return.  The woman said, “I think that I have

No husband,” and the Creator said to her:

“Truly do you have none?  You have five, the sixth you do not possess,’

So that you may receive

Exceeding great joy and redemption.”

O wise enigmas!  O wise characteristics!  In the faith of the woman is pictured

All the features of the church in true colors

which do not grow old, for the way in which a the woman denied husband when she had many,

is just the way church denied many gods, like husbands,

and left them and became betrothed

to one Master in coming forth from the water.

She had five husbands and sixth she did not have, and leaving the five

husbands of impiety, she now takes Thee, as the sixth, as she comes

from the water

Exceeding great joy and redemption…

The espoused church of the nations, then, left these things,

and she hurries to the well of

the baptismal font

And denies the things of the past, just as the woman of Samaria did;

for she did not conceal what had formerly been true from Him who knows all in


But she said, “Even if I formerly had husbands, I do not know wish to have

these husbands which I did have; for I know possess Thee who has now taken me in

Thy net;

And I am by faith rescued from the filth of my sins

That I have receive

Exceeding joy and redemption.”

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In exactly nine months from today, March 25th, is Christmas.  On this day the Church rejoices that the angel Gabriel announced (and so, annunciation) that the Virgin Mary would conceive and bear a Child:  the  Son of God.  When Gabriel announced this, Mary responded, Let it be according to your word.  So the Annunciation is the Incarnation.   The Feast of the Annunciation is always in Lent as the Church prepares for Holy Week.  In the midst of death, there is life (Luther).  St. Gregory Thaumaturgus  (died circa A.D. 270-275) wrote this on the Annunciation:

Most of the holy fathers and patriarchs and prophets desired to see Him with their own eyes, but did not. Some of them by visions beheld Him in type, and darkly; others, again, were privileged to hear the divine voice through the medium of the cloud and were favored with the vision of holy angels. But only to Mary the pure virgin did the archangel Gabriel manifest himself in brilliant light, bringing her the glad address, “Hail, you who are highly favored!” And thus she received the Word, and soon, in time, through the body’s natural process, she gave birth to the dear Pearl. Come, then, you, too, dearly beloved, and let us chant the melody that has been taught us by the inspired harp of David and say, “Arise, 0 Lord, into Your rest, You, and the ark of Your sanctuary.” For the holy Virgin is truly an ark, made with gold both within and without, who has received the whole treasury of the Holy of Holies.

For the holy Virgin is truly an ark…the Ark of the Covenant, not made by human hands.  The Virgin Mary for nine months was the first Church for our Savior was in her womb.  Now the Ark of the Covenant was in the Temple in Jerusalem.  When the Christ is born, He becomes the true Temple, not in Jerusalem, Gerizim (see this coming Sunday’s Gospel, John 4 ) or any place else.  In John 2, when the disciples marveled upon seeing the Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus responded that tear this Temple down and in three days I will raise it.  Others standing nearby were aghast and said it took 46 years to build it and you will rebuild in three days!  

But he was speaking about the temple of his body22When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

He promised that as 2 or 3 are gathered together in His Name, so He is there (Matthew 18:20).  He said, This is My Body and This is My Blood.  Even the Piovano Community Room at the Rockbridge Library is where and when we are called to so meet and are so met by Him.  This is our Annunciation of His grace and peace for us sinners.  This then so leads to the  reason of the Incarnation as so well said by St.Gregory Thaumaturgos:

Mary laid in a manger Him who sits above the cherubim and is praised by myriads of angels. In the manger set apart for irrational animals, the Word of God lay, in order that He might impart to men, who are really irrational by free choice, the true reason and understanding. In the manger from which cattle eat was laid the heavenly Bread, in order that He might provide men who live like the beasts of the earth with spiritual food.

O  Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son Jesus Christ by the message of the angel to the Virgin Mary, so by the message of His cross and passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. The Prayer of the Day)

The Old Testament Reading for the Day: Isaiah 7:10-14

The Gospel Reading for the Day: Luke 1:26-38

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Psalm 32:  1-5

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

5I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

A Reflection: The real saying is , “confession is good for the soul”.  This is most certainly true!  But note: the Psalmist above is  stating in his prayer that lack of confession has physically affected him and so confession  is good for the body as well.

The Lord  created  us body and soul.  The connective “and” is not an additive but it is unitive.  Lutheran Theologian Rev. Hermann Sasse (17 July 1895 – 9 August 1976) pointed out the unitive nature of men, created body and soul, and then pointed out that the Lord so gave us Holy Communion, His Body and Blood because, “…souls do not eat and bodies do not believe”.  When we keep what we have done or left undone inside, “all bottled up”, and think our trespass can be forgotten by any of us, then it goes “heavy” upon us soul and body.  The Law of God, “Your hand” is heavy upon us.    The Lord who is perfect is perfect in remembrance and in forgetfulness:  For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31: 34) Psalm 32 begins with the proclamation of the blessedness of the LORD who forgives.  His forgiveness is the basis of our confession and sorrow over sin and He forgives as if for the first time! In confession, we know again that the Lord has done the heavy lifting of our transgression upon His shoulders.  He did so for all to see and all to believe in one place:   on the Cross.   In His nail-imprinted hand, His hand lifts us up forgiven.

This is Christ’s authority to the Church, the Office of the Keys to forgive the sins of all who are penitent.

For further reading, below is the pertinent excerpt from Martin Luther’s The Small Catechism:


  • What is confession?
    Answer: Confession consists of two parts. One is that
    we confess our sins. The other is that we receive
    absolution or forgiveness from the confessor as from
    God Himself, by no means doubting but firmly believing
    that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in
  • What sins should we confess?
    Answer: Before God we should acknowledge that we
    are guilty of all manner of sins, even those of which
    we are not aware, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer.
    Before the confessor, however, we should confess only
    those sins of which we have knowledge and which
    trouble us.
  • What are such sins?
    Answer: Reflect on your condition in the light of
    the Ten Commandments: whether you are a father or
    mother, a son or daughter, a master or servant;
    whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, lazy,
    ill-tempered, or quarrelsome; whether you have harmed
    anyone by word or deed; and whether you have stolen,
    neglected, or wasted anything, or done other evil.
  • Please give me a brief form of confession.
    Answer: You should say to the confessor: “Dear
    Pastor, please hear my confession and declare that my
    sins are forgiven for God’s sake.”
    “I, a poor sinner, confess before God that
    I am guilty of all sins. In particular I confess in
    your presence that, as a manservant or maidservant,
    etc., I am unfaithful to my master, for here and there
    I have not done what I was told. I have made my master
    angry, caused him to curse, neglected to do my duty,
    and caused him to suffer loss. I have also been
    immodest in word and deed. I have quarreled with my
    equals. I have grumbled and sworn at my mistress, etc.
    For all this I am sorry and pray for grace. I mean to
    do better.”
  • A master or mistress may say: “In
    particular I confess in your presence that I have not
    been faithful in training my children, servants, and
    wife to the glory of God. I have cursed. I have set a
    bad example by my immodest language and actions. I
    have injured my neighbor by speaking evil of
    him, overcharging him, giving him inferior goods and
    short measure.” Masters and mistresses should
    add whatever else they have done contrary to God’s
    commandments and to their action in life, etc.
  • If, however, anyone does not feel that his
    conscience is burdened by such or by greater sins, he
    should not worry, nor should he search for and invent
    other sins, for this would turn confession into
    torture; he should simply mention one
    or two sins of which he is aware. For example,
    “In particular I confess that I once cursed.
    On one occasion I also spoke indecently. And I
    neglected this or that,” etc. Let this
  • If you have knowledge of no sin at all (which is
    quite unlikely), you should mention none in
    particular, but receive forgiveness upon the general
    confession which you make to God in
    the presence of the confessor.
  • Then the confessor shall say: “God be
    merciful to you and strengthen your faith.
  • Again he shall say: “Do you believe that
    this forgiveness is the forgiveness of God?”
    Answer: “Yes, I do.”
  • Then he shall say: “Be it done for you as
    you have believed. According to the
    command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you your
    sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
    the Holy Spirit. Amen. Go in
  • A confessor will know additional passages of the
    Scriptures with which to comfort and to strengthen the
    faith of those whose consciences are heavily burdened
    or who are distressed and sorely tried. This is
    intended simply as an ordinary form of confession for
    plain people.


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Take Your Pic


The Apostle Paul’s letter to Pastor Timothy,  2 Timothy 4: 1-5 (emphasis my own):

1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.3 For the time is coming when people will not endure soundteaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.


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I was googling New Yorker cartoons and found the cartoon above (and a couple of others you will be seeing) and the question is a darn good one!

The book I’m OK-You’re OK was published in 1969.  It became a best-seller.  This title is the reference  in the cartoon above. I’m OK-You’re OK probably did help some folks. The basis of the book was a psychology called Transactional Analysis.   It seems to me to be the basis of the self-esteem movement.  At the time I would speculate that many a pastor preached this false gospel from many a pulpit.  I read of one such sermon which proclaimed, “I’m not okay and you’re not okay and that’s okay” as a summation of the Gospel.  I do not think so.  I’m not okay and you’re not okay is not okay, not by God as revealed in His  Law. “…as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one...”   “… through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (see Romans 3)  In saying, we are okay, when we are not, means  God accepts us for who we are.   This  misses the Cross entirely.   He sent His Son because He does not accept us as sinners with our not-okay-ness of  trespass. The Lord justifies the ungodly but not ungodliness (insight courtesy of Pr. Lou Smith).   He justifies the ungodly by faith in the One Who has forgiven us: that’s what He was doing up there!  It wasn’t in heaven, but right here on earth.  We are not made ‘ok’ by some psychological maneuvering.  No, we are forgiven, “…that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-20).




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Let us pray… God of grace and might, we praise You for your servant Patrick, to whom You gave gifts to make the good news known to the people of Ireland. Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds and evangelists of Your kingdom, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lessons: Isaiah 62: 1-7; Psalm 48; Romans 10: 11-17; St. Luke 24: 44-53

Intro: The life dates for Patrick, missionary Bishop to the Irish people are circa 389 to 461.  The time period is significant for two reasons.   First:  this was still the time of the Roman Empire and it was also the time of the fall  of the Empire.  In Patrick’s lifetime,  on August 24th, 410, the Visigoths, under Alaric, attacked and pillaged Rome.  For the first time in 800 years Rome had been taken by a foreign enemy.  Second:  it was not until 1054 that the split occurred between the Roman Catholic Church in Rome  and the Eastern Orthodox centered in Constantinople.  Patrick lived in the time of  the 1,000 years of  the unified Church:  He was not a Roman Catholic, Orthodox or Lutheran saint. He is a Christian Saint. The bio below is interspersed with  St. Patrick’s writings. After the Bio, my reflection-Pr. Schroeder

I.  Biography: Saint Patrick was born in Roman Britain, at an unidentified place.  He was the son of alderman and later deacon Calpornius. His grandfather was a priest.  St. Patrick was not Irish.  He grew up in a Christian household but it was not until dramatic event in his life that Patrick began to take the faith seriously. At age 16, a teenager, he was captured by raiders and enslaved in Ireland.  He was a shepherd.   From St. Patrick’s own writing, The Confession:

“I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful, and utterly despised by many. My father was Calpornius, a deacon, son of Potitus, a priest, of the village Bannavem Taburniæ; he had a country seat nearby, and there I was taken captive.

I was then about sixteen years of age. I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people—and deservedly so, because we turned away from God, and did not keep His commandments, and did not obey our priests, who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought over us the wrath of his anger and scattered us among many nations, even unto the utmost part of the earth, where now my littleness is placed among strangers.”

He was enslaved in Ireland for 6 years.  It was during this time he became a Christian.  In his enslavement, Patrick was set free.

And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my abjection, and mercy on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me as would a father his son.

Hence I cannot be silent—nor, indeed, is it expedient—about the great benefits and the great grace which the Lord has deigned to bestow upon me in the land of my captivity; for this we can give to God in return after having been chastened by Him, to exalt and praise His wonders before every nation that is anywhere under the heaven.

So after 6 years Patrick made his escape.

And there one night I heard in my sleep a voice saying to me: `It is well that you fast, soon you will go to your own country.’ And again, after a short while, I heard a voice saying to me: `See, your ship is ready.’ And it was not near, but at a distance of perhaps two hundred miles, and I had never been there, nor did I know a living soul there; and then I took to flight, and I left the man with whom I had stayed for six years. And I went in the strength of God who directed my way to my good, and I feared nothing until I came to that ship.

After many perils and dangers in that journey by sea, then by land  and now back home he had a dream in which Christ Jesus told him to preach Christ to the Irish people.  He was trained to be a priest, in Gaul, present day France, under St. Germanus.  Patrick’s superiors did not favor his going to Ireland because of his deficient education. There are only two surviving writings by St. Patrick, The Confessions and The Letter to Coroticus.   Of his education Patrick confessed:

As a youth, nay, almost as a boy not able to speak, I was taken captive, before I knew what to pursue and what to avoid. Hence to-day I blush and fear exceedingly to reveal my lack of education; for I am unable to tell my story to those versed in the art of concise writing—in such a way, I mean, as my spirit and mind long to do, and so that the sense of my words expresses what I feel.

But if indeed it had been given to me as it was given to others, then I would not be silent because of my desire of thanksgiving; and if perhaps some people think me arrogant for doing so in spite of my lack of knowledge and my slow tongue, it is, after all, written: The stammering tongues shall quickly learn to speak peace.

How much more should we earnestly strive to do this, we, who are, so Scripture says, a letter of Christ for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth, and, though not an eloquent one, yet…written in your hearts, not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God! And again the Spirit witnesses that even rusticity was created by the Highest.

Whence I, once rustic, exiled, unlearned, who does not know how to provide for the future, this at least I know most certainly that before I was humiliated I was like a stone Lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me up, and raised me aloft, and placed me on the top of the wall. And therefore I ought to cry out aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits here and in eternity—benefits which the mind of men is unable to appraise.

In 431 Bishop Palladius, sent by Pope Celestine to the Irish, died after only one year.  So there had been evangelization in the Ireland, but with little result.  Soon after, Patrick was name Palladius’ successor and consecrated as Bishop, missionary Bishop for Ireland.  He was approximately 37 years old.

And I was not worthy, nor was I such that the Lord should grant this to His servant; that after my misfortunes and so great difficulties, after my captivity, after the lapse of so many years, He should give me so great a grace in behalf of that nation—a thing which once, in my youth, I never expected nor thought of.

The rest is history, as it is said, and legend,  many legends regarding St. Patrick, such as driving out the snakes from Ireland.  But of course by the Gospel many snakes were driven out: the serpent of the devil.  And for Bishop Patrick such was done by the strong Name of the Holy Trinity.  And it was done

Because there is no other God, nor ever was, nor will be, than God the Father unbegotten, without beginning, from whom is all beginning, the Lord of the universe, as we have been taught; and His son Jesus Christ, whom we declare to have always been with the Father, spiritually and ineffably begotten by the Father before the beginning of the world, before all beginning; and by Him are made all things visible and invisible. He was made man, and, having defeated death, was received into heaven by the Father; and He hath given Him all power over all names in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess to Him that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe, and whose advent we expect soon to be, judge of the living and of the dead, who will render to every man according to his deeds; and He has poured forth upon us abundantly the Holy Spirit, the gift and pledge of immortality, who makes those who believe and obey sons of God and joint heirs with Christ; and Him do we confess and adore, one God in the Trinity of the Holy Name.

For He Himself has said through the Prophet: Call upon me in the day of thy trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. And again He says: It is honourable to reveal and confess the works of God.

Patrick’s faith was the Trinitarian faith of the Scriptures and Christ’s Church.  The lyrics of Hymn 188 in the Lutheran Book of Worship, I Bind Unto Myself Today, in the section, ‘Holy Baptism’ are attributed to Patrick and is called, Patrick’s Breastplate, that is, Baptism was his sure defense.  So for him the Trinity was not only a doctrine, but true confession because the Lord, the Holy Trinity is the way of life.  Patrick knew what evangelization was all about:  baptism.

In the light, therefore, of our faith in the Trinity I must make this choice, regardless of danger I must make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, without fear and frankly I must spread everywhere the name of God so that after my decease I may leave a bequest to my brethren and sons whom I have baptised in the Lord—so many thousands of people.

The evangelization of the Irish people was done in great struggle and peril. He makes this clear in his Confession.  Patrick was criticized by the British when he demanded the excommunication of the British Prince Coroticus, who, in a retaliatory raid on Ireland, killed some of Patrick’s converts and sold others into slavery. Patrick wrote to the soldiers:

The day after the newly baptized, anointed with chrism, in white garments (had been slain) – the fragrance was still on their foreheads when they were butchered and slaughtered with the sword …I sent a letter with a holy presbyter whom I had taught from his childhood, clerics accompanying him, asking them to let us have some of the booty, and of the baptized they had made captives. They only jeered at them.

And yet the Gospel was preached, the Scriptures taught, the Sacraments administered.  The mission of Christ’s Church, Patrick knew, were Scripture and Sacraments for the salvation of many, in obedience to the Lord’s command to teach and baptize all nations.

For I am very much God’s debtor, who gave me such grace that many people were reborn in God through me and afterwards confirmed, and that clerics were ordained for them everywhere, for a people just coming to the faith, whom the Lord took from the utmost parts of the earth, as He once had promised through His prophets: To Thee the gentiles shall come from the ends of the earth and shall say: `How false are the idols that our fathers got for themselves, and there is no profit in them’; and again: `I have set Thee as a light among the gentiles, that Thou mayest be for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth.’

Tradition says Patrick died on this date.

I pray those who believe and fear God, whosoever deigns to look at or receive this writing which Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, has composed in Ireland, that no one should ever say that it was my ignorance if I did or showed forth anything however small according to God’s good pleasure; but let this be your conclusion and let it so be thought, that—as is the perfect truth—it was the gift of God. This is my confession before I die.

(Sources: Festivals and Commemorations: Handbook to the Calendar in Lutheran Book of Worship by Philip H. Pfatteicher; The Penguin Dictionary of Saints; Saints of the Roman Calendar by Enzo Lodi, “The Letter to Coroticus” @ http://www.yale.edu/glc/archive/1166.htm and Patrick’s Confession)

II. A Reflection on St. Patrick: Wearing of the Green

Pastor and Bishop Patrick in his evangelization of the Irish people followed the sound Biblical pattern of the Church: preaching the Word and administering the blessed Sacraments, especially Holy Baptism as Patrick attested in a quote above.  Since one of his three extant writings is St. Patrick’s Breastplate, the basis of the Baptismal hymn, “I Bind Unto Myself Today” (#604, Lutheran Service Book), he is  closely associated with Holy Baptism:

I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity,by invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever by power of faith Christ’s incarnation,
his baptism in the Jordan river, his death on the cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb, his riding up the heavenly way,
his coming at the day of doom I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay, his ear to harken to my need,
the wisdom of my God to teach, his hand to guide, his shield to ward,
the Word of God to give me speech, his heavenly host to be my guard.

I bind unto myself the name, the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same, the Three in One, and One in Three,
of whom all nature hath creation, eternal Father, Spirit, Word;
praise to the God of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord!

Two sayings associated with St. Patrick’s Day in our day: “Everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s” and “The wearing of the green”. We are Irish in so far as one is baptized into Christ Jesus along with our brother in the Lord, Pastor and Bishop Patrick. One of my favorite legends about Pr. Patrick was he was witnessing to a  powerful, pagan tribal chieftain who was stymied over the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.  They were standing outside and Patrick bent over and plucked a shamrock and said, “The Trinity is like this shamrock:  3 leaves, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet one stem, one plant, one life”.  “Wearing of the green” reminds us of the color of the altar cloths (paraments) for most of the Church year, green during the many Sundays after Pentecost. Along with Patrick, we only come to life in the Lord, in Holy Baptism, in the Name of the Blessed and Holy Trinity.  Faith is the Lord’s utterly gracious gift.  We are green and growing in Christ alone in the unity of the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father, baptized into His Name alone. “…salvation is of Christ the Lord!” We wear not the green of Ireland, but of our only Homeland coming into the world now by faith, then by sight.

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