MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Wednesday, March 17th. We’re so glad you’ve tuned in to WORLD Radio.
Top of the mornin’ to ya. I’m Myrna Brown.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Top of the mornin’ to you!
Coming next on The World and Everything in It: St. Patrick’s Day!
Have you ever wondered who the real St. Pat was? Well, today we have a biographical sketch of him by D. James Kennedy. He was senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida for decades. In March 1999, Kennedy preached from Phillipians 1:21. Note that we’ve edited his comments for time.
D. JAMES KENNEDY: Well, this week, no doubt some of you will be a’wearin’ the green. But there are a few things that probably we ought to get straight about St. Patrick before we begin the celebrations, so we’ll at least know what we’re doing. Not only was he not Irish, but he wasn’t born on March 17th. And if that’s not bad enough, may I also point out to you that he wasn’t a saint. So a lot of the myth is, of course, just that it is a myth. So you’re going to hear the real story of St. Patrick.
At age of 16, living right there as he did on the beach of the western coast of England, just south of Scotland, of Dumbarton, he and two of his friends had spent the day in the breakers in the ocean. They were sitting up in the mouth of a cave at a crescent shaped beach, planning their escapades for the morrow. When suddenly they looked over here, and they saw a whole group of freebooters, of pirates, of the Irish pirates.
As Patrick himself describes it in his confession, he said: “and we ran, rushed incontinently–pretty good for a 16 year old–and we rushed incontinently right into the arms of the other half of the pirates who were coming the other way. And they were bound hand and foot, dragged aboard their ship with several hundred other English young boys and girls, taken over to Hibernia and they were forced at whip point to march 200 miles inland, in the northern part of Ireland, up north of what is now Belfast. And there, Patrick and the others were sold into slavery.
And he was sold to a fierce Druid chieftain who had little concern for his own life, and no concern whatsoever for the lives of anyone else. But while he was there, he began to remember…his father had said to him: “Patrick, there is a God, and He is a God who is able to deliver you. Do not forget that.” And he remembered hearing his father talk about how God had loved the world. And he sent His only Son and in some remote extreme corner of the British Empire. Way over on the other side of the world. And there on a cross He had died for sins: not for His own, but for our sins.
And in his confessions Patrick says, how God opened his blinded eyes and gave enlightenment to his confused mind. And he saw and he understand understood, and he committed his life to Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior and master of all. It obviously, in those several years that he had left there, he made a tremendous impact upon those that he met. They thought of him as that holy youth.
But at last one night, after six years, in the middle of the night, he had a dream. And in the dream, he heard a voice, and the voice said: “Behold, your ship is ready.” And he left the swine and he staggered through 200 miles of frigid forest and finally burst out onto the beach. And there was a ship, a ship! So he sailed to Gaul and from Gaul back to England, to be reunited with his family.
He tried to put it out of his mind, the terrible experience, but the people of Ireland kept coming back to his mind. And one day, 20 years later, he had a dream. And in the dream he saw a whole host of the Irish Druids standing on the beach, looking out across the sea saying, “Come back, holy youth, and dwell and walk henceforth among us ever more.” And he took that to be the call of God upon his life and prepared himself and set sail across the western misty sea and landed in Northern Ireland.
He built over 300 churches, he found Ireland totally pagan, and left it resoundingly Christian. He had an extraordinary impact upon the land. His accomplishment was absolutely gigantic. And by the power of the gospel, he changed that entire nation. Saint Patrick, was a saint, in the only real sense of that word. Made such because he was sanctified–the meaning of the word–by God, by His Spirit, as he submitted himself wholly to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and received Him as Savior and Lord. And he accomplished incredible things. A hero far greater than the myth. And one that challenges every one of us today. For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain.
REICHARD: That’s the late D. James Kennedy on the life of the “real St. Patrick” from a 1999 sermon at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.