For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, (Ephesians 6:12).
As an ordained Presbyterian minister, I am not supposed to be receptive to the concept of patron saints. After all, one of the three foundational truths of the Reformation was, and is, the priesthood of all believers and the understanding that in Christ we are all saints. But I have a patron saint anyway. It is St. Patrick, and tomorrow is his day. I better explain.
For many of us there are series of "links" in the chain of events that eventually leads to our embrace of God in Jesus Christ. One of mine took place about half-way through my university career. I was not only an unbeliever, I was aggressively opposed to the whole idea of Jesus. It was my agnostic period (:-) On St. Patrick's Day I stopped into pub to grab a green beer. An old high school friend was there, and over a pitcher of green beer he told me what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus. At the time I blew it off. But several years later, when I came to a personal faith in Jesus, I looked back on this event with a new perspective. It was one of the "links" in my chain. I'm grateful to Bob Fulton for being the kind of guy who could tell you about Jesus while imbibing in the beverage Benjamin Franklin said proved that God loves us and wants us to be happy. (There seems to be some debate about which beverage Franklin was referring to, but for our purposes we will pretend it was beer, not wine.)
I also decided that St. Patrick should be my patron saint. This was before I studied the Bible or theology. It was an intuitive decision. After reading Thomas Cahill's book "How the Irish Saved Civilization" I gained a new appreciation for Patrick and reaffirmed my choice of him as a special friend. I also learned of the beautiful prayer of Patrick called his "shield" or "lorica". I will link you to a site where you can read the entire prayer, but just to give you a taste, here are a few verses:
"I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation."
The prayer goes on to call on Christ to "shield" or protect him from all forces of evil. Patrick knew the truth of today's text. His story is filled with experiences of encountering the forces of supernatural power. But Christ answered his prayer. He surrounded Patrick and protected him. The Holy Spirit empowered him and made him effective in winning Ireland for Christ.
Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. I encourage you to take a little time and read his prayer. And don't forget to watch the third episode of "The Bible". Here is a link to a preview of tomorrow night's show: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-IB9CahNfiY.