I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman

Today St Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world in a great frenzy of fantastically tasteless paddywackery [a tiny proportion pictured]

The real Patrick is met in his moving and dramatic Confession. If you haven’t read it, the very best way you can possibly spend today is to enjoy reading to the story of one of the true greats from church history.

I say ‘great’ deliberately.

Jesus said “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” [Mt 18:4].

Humility is the sort of thing that you know when you see it. And you see it in Patrick. A man used by God in extraordinary ways and at the same time devoid of self-importance or ego and deeply aware of the depth and riches of God’s grace poured out into his life. His Confession begins ‘I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman …’  and continues with a deep sense at the wonder that God chose him to bring the gospel to the Irish.

Some quotes:

I was then about sixteen years of age. I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland

.. And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God …

I cannot be silent … I never had any reason except the Gospel … why I should ever return to the people from whom once before I barely escaped

Daily I expect murder, fraud, or captivity, or whatever it may be; but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven.

I am imperfect in many things … I was not worthy that the Lord should give me so great a grace on behalf of Ireland.

A question: – how does Patrick’s humility and simplicity ‘fit’ what we think of as ‘greatness’ in contemporary church leadership?

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