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Beauty for Brokenness

Wednesday, March 17 Lent Calendar* Invite: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by learning about the real St. Patrick who loved Jesus.

Note: Today's blog post is written by my dear friend Amanda Berg. It all began when our husbands became friends at college. Our families have grown up together. When Eric and Amanda lived for several years in Ireland, we were blessed to visit them. Amanda in currently interim pastor at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Simi Valley, CA.

A St. Patrick's Day Pilgrimage...

Early in the morning hours, while it was still dark, we took the bus with our local parish up to Down Cathedral, located in the ancient town of Downpatrick, the town where St. Patrick is believed to be buried. Christians have worshiped on this site for over 1600 years. And on that day, we could feel ourselves becoming a part of that legacy, worshipping with the local community and celebrating with them afterward on the church lawn near St. Patrick’s grave. It was there, inside a big, cozy-warm tent, that we feasted on the best lamb stew and apple pie we’ve ever had, all the while enjoying one lively Irish jig after another by musicians whose fingers never seemed to tire. And while all of this made for one of the best St. Patrick’s Day ever, what really made it special was sharing it with dear friends. Chamie and her family were there with us. My family and I had moved to Ireland the year before, and they had come to visit. Being St. Patrick’s Day, we all wanted to do something memorable… “What about a pilgrimage?” Everyone was in.

St. Patrick's Grave at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, Ireland.

As our families made the 2-hour drive up to Downpatrick, we crossed into Northern Ireland, and were reminded of the sad realities of hatred and divisions among countries, communities, families, and peoples. Later that morning in worship, we would all hear for the first time the song “Beauty for Brokenness” by Graham Kendrick. That song made its home in our hearts that day. I think St. Patrick would have loved it too. The Book of Armagh, one of Ireland’s most ancient manuscripts, says that Saint Patrick wanted the Irish people to have two phrases always on their lips, “Kyrie Eleison and Deo Gratias”** (‘Lord have Mercy’ & ‘Thanks be to God’). These were meant to be prayers in a world lived in-between the two… our prayer for God’s mercy and justice, and our gratitude for God’s abundant love… “beauty for brokenness…” St. Patrick lived this way. His zeal for a faith-filled life is reflected in his life of deep abiding in Christ. He was known for his fervant prayer life. His famous prayer is a fitting one for us today as we remember him. Between our prayers for forgiveness for the ways we have failed to love, and our prayers of thanks for God’s abundant grace, we find Christ… all around us… everyday… who taught us to seek justice and peace, and to love without measure …

A Celtic cross at Monasterboice High Cross and Round Tower. Monasterboice is a monastic site founded by St. Buite in the 600s; today Monasterboice attracts visitors from all over the world.

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 when I arise,

Christ in the heart

of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth

of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength,

the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness

of the Creator of creation.

-Prayer of St. Patrick

*Find the daily Lent calendar here; or for the Lent calendar more specific to Ascension Lutheran Church, go here.

** John O’Riordain, The Early Irish Saints (Blackrock: Columba Press, 2007) p. 20.

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