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Scott’s Column: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
March 16 2021

While you are preparing your corned beef and cabbage or whatever you do at home this year to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, my thoughts are drawn to the great Breastplate prayer of St. Patrick in which he prays for God’s power to be with him and to defend him.  There are various versions, here’s a link to one.  Praying St. Patrick’s prayer would be a good spiritual practice for your holiday this year and every year.

I’m particularly drawn to this section and pray a version of it often:

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 every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

One reason Celtic spirituality has been so popular in the last generation is because of its deep connections to nature.   For example, there is also this section from St. Patrick’s prayer:

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

Celtic spirituality provides tools for our current climate change and environmental crises.

The Nebraska Conference of the United Church of Christ has declared a Climate Change Sabbath for the Sunday following this Easter.  Our worship will focus on how we live out our faith as stewards of the Earth.  As part of that effort we have also received a grant from the Arbor Day Foundation to plant trees.  One of the best things we humans can do to help offset the effects of climate change is to plant trees, so churches and individuals across the conference will be planting trees.  Of course tree planting is a very traditional Nebraska thing to do.

So, another activity for your St. Patrick’s Day this year is to commit to what you will do in the coming months to address climate change.

Let’s do more than wear a green shirt this year, as we honor this saint of the church.