First Baptist Church

Christ Be All Around Us

If you’re wearing green today, in the tradition of St. Patrick’s Day, the odds are increasing that no one outside of your family will actually see it. In fact, due to the multitude of ways that COVID-19 is impacting our lives, whatever St. Patrick’s Day would typically look like for you, it is most certainly the case that it will be different today. Some businesses have been directed to close. Restaurants have been limited to carry-out and delivery only. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), along with the federal and state governments, are now recommending that social gatherings be limited to 10 people or less. For my family, if that number gets much smaller, we’re going to have to split up throughout the house.

The Fear We Feel

In all seriousness, everything is changing. Right before our eyes, society is acting and reacting to COVID-19 in extreme ways, and it’s understandable. Fear is a natural response to the worldwide pandemic and death rate of the Coronavirus, especially for the oldest among us. And, in many ways, a healthy level of fear can actually lead to wise protective measures. However, as followers of Jesus, God’s Word doesn’t call us to be overwhelmed by fear. Rather, we’re exhorted to take our fears to the Lord, because He is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1-2).

Patrick's Story

In light of that reality, it’s actually very fitting that we would be celebrating the life of St. Patrick today, but not in the way you might think. Interestingly, most of the things associated with St. Patrick’s Day actually have nothing to do with St. Patrick at all. As is often the case, the truth is far more meaningful than the myths.

Towards the end of the fourth century, Patrick was born, not in Ireland, but most likely in Scotland. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland, where he lived as a slave under a druid chieftain for 6 years. Sometime during that period, the Lord brought him to faith in Jesus, and he was saved. Thankfully, Patrick was able to escape his captivity from Ireland and found a way back home to Scotland. Upon his return, he served as a Christian minister for 20 years. 

The Gospel of Freedom

Patrick’s story, however, doesn’t end there. And, in some ways, it had only just begun. In one of the most unexpected twists, God began calling Patrick back to the land of his pagan captivity, to Ireland. Although many discouraged his divine call, and told him that it was crazy and couldn’t be done, Patrick was steadfast in his God-given desire to see the gospel take root and penetrate the hearts of unreached Ireland. And, that’s exactly what he did. For over two decades, Patrick proclaimed the good news and shared the truth of the gospel of Jesus with the Irish people. To those who once held him in captivity, he shared the good news of how they could be set free (John 8:36).

Today, we face an unprecedented and seemingly insurmountable obstacle to effective gospel ministry in the Coronavirus. How long it will impact us, and to what extent, we still have no idea. But, like Patrick, we know that our confidence is not found in our own efforts or abilities. In the midst of our fears, we know that God is faithful. He is sovereign over every circumstance of our life, including COVID-19, and He will be glorified through it.

A Timeless Prayer

According to tradition, in the year 433, as Patrick was praying and preparing to share the gospel with the Irish King Leoghaire, he wrote down what is now known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate. As we seek to faithfully navigate the circumstances we face, may the cry of our hearts join together, in the spirit of Patrick’s mission, in praying:

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
Afar and near,
Alone or in a multitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, 

Christ before me, 

Christ behind me,
Christ in me, 

Christ beneath me, 

Christ above me,
Christ on my right, 

Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.

By: Pastor Kevin Hay