The Story of St. Patrick

Happy St. Patrick’s day!  The real St. Patrick was one of the greatest Christians who ever lived, and some say one of the greatest people who ever lived. His story is amazing, and true. Here’s my re-telling of the true tall tale of St. Patrick.celtic-cross.jpg

Patrick spent most of his life in Ireland, but he was actually born in England, who were the enemies of Ireland.

Patrick was born around the year 390 – over 1600 years ago. His grandfather was a Christian pastor, and his family went to church, but he himself did not believe in God or believe in Jesus as his Lord and savior when he was young. When he was 16, his life changed forever: he was kidnapped by pirates and taken to Ireland, a wild and crazy place with wild and crazy people.

In Ireland he became a slave, and he was forced to work as a shepherd in the wilderness all alone. While he was all alone in the wilderness, he began to pray, remembering what he heard about Jesus when he was young. God answered his prayers, and eventually Patrick trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins, and in faith Patrick made Jesus the king of his life, turning from his sin and becoming God’s child. He remained a slave all alone in the wilderness, yet he trusted God and prayed day and night.

Eventually God spoke to Patrick in a wonderful dream, telling him to go back home to England. So Patrick escaped from slavery, and God protected him on his long walk across Ireland, and provided a ship that was sailing to England. God had rescued him twice: first from sin and death when he believed in Jesus, and now from slavery in a strange land.

Back home in England, Patrick joined the church, studied the Bible, and after many years became a pastor, leading his church. He was so full of Jesus’ love that he wanted to share it with everyone. Life was surely good for Patrick back home.

Eventually, God spoke to him in another dream, and this time it was much harder than before. God told Patrick to go BACK to Ireland, to the place where he was a slave, to the land of his enemies, a place with wild and crazy people who did wild and crazy and evil things. God wanted Patrick to share Jesus love with his enemies. What should he do?

People in his church surely told him that he should not go. They knew how wild and crazy and evil the Irish people were. They were sure no one would listen, and that Patrick would be hurt and killed. Yet Patrick obeyed God, because he loved God, and he loved the Irish people, even though they were the enemies of his people. He knew that Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Patrick knew that he must tell the Irish people that God loved them so much that He sent Jesus to die for them, and live again, and if they believe in Jesus they can have eternal life, be God’s children and know God’s love too.

And that is just what he did. Patrick sold his land and all his things and moved to Ireland, leaving the safety of his home in England. God protected Patrick from being killed by the wild and crazy and evil Irish people, although they did throw him in jail at times and did try to kill him! Patrick preached and taught the gospel all through Ireland. He told them to turn away from their false gods, turn away from their sin, and to believe in Jesus, the son of the one true God, who alone can save us from our sins. He used music and art to share the gospel. He took care of the poor. He prayed to God to heal the sick, and God did powerful miracles through him. They say he even used the 3-leaf clover, which is found in Ireland, to try to explain the Trinity, that there is one God in 3 persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

God blessed Patrick, and through him many, many people became Christians in Ireland. He started about 700 churches and thousands of people had eternal life in Jesus. Patrick died and went to heaven at age 77, having served his whole life for the people who enslaved him, so they might have eternal life.

If St. Patrick was here, he might tell us his story, but he wouldn’t stop there. He would tell us an even better story. He might say something like this: “You know how I gave my whole life to serve those I loved, even though they were my enemies? I did it because Jesus gave his life for us, even though we were his enemies. I simply believed in him, received his forgiveness, and followed in his footsteps. Isn’t Jesus wonderful?”

Featured

Christianity Explored

898445.png

COMING SOON! We will be hosting a 7-week group called Christianity Explored, starting the week after Easter. Would you, or someone you know, like to be introduced (or re-introduced) to the true heart of the Christian faith? Stop in sometime or contact Pastor Bob at 802-442-2105 or sign up here:

 

The Evolution of “Mercy Street”

Mercy Street Slides - Oct 2018The monthly gathering we call Mercy Street began here in Bennington in July 2017. The idea was to have a safe and welcoming gathering for all affected by addiction, to remember we are loved–loved by God, loved by our church community, loved by each other. We sing songs of hope and redemption. We share our stories. We pray. We connect. For about a year we also enjoyed a meal together (thanks to the Turning Point!).

Now we are evolving again, this time to re-emphasize the music and de-emphasize the food (although we will have coffee and snacks afterward). We will still emphasize sharing the love of God with anyone who has been touched by the opiate crisis and other addictions. We will fight the lies that say you are unlovable and unworthy; we will fight to remember that You Are Loved.

We will also open our arms wider, to include all who may find themselves in need of hope but not necessarily affected by addiction. In these dark times we all could use a blast of light. So whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you’ve done or not done, please know that you are welcome to Mercy Street.

Our next gathering is this Thursday February 28 at 7pm at 601 Main Street. We’ve assembled a lively folk/gospel/rock/blues band for your listening and sing-along pleasure (if you’ve been to one of our recent Good Friday services, you’ll remember the infectious, toe-tapping joy of singing along to songs of hope and healing).

Come as you are, my friends, and remember: “earth has no sorrow heaven can’t heal.”

For more info please contact Pastor Bob: PastorBobWiegers@gmail.com

Genesis Resources

We’re starting our journey through Genesis! Check out the resources below to help you read and understand.

Recommended Bibles
ESV Bible (many design options)
ESV Study Bible
ESV Student Study Bible

Genesis text online
ESV translation
NIV translation

Genesis Audio on YouTube
Genesis Audio – ESV simple reading
Genesis Audio – ESV dramatic reading
Genesis Audio – “Message” Paraphrase (part 1) (part 2)

Genesis Overview Videos HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
“Bible Project” overview (part 1) (part 2)
“Read Scripture” overview (part 1) (part 2)

Mobile Apps
YouVersion
Bible Gateway

New Sermon Series: Genesis

Coming soon: a sermon series on the book of Genesis. Who am I? What am I? How am I? Why am I? We’ll look into all this and more as we dig into the most ancient and vibrant stories of our faith. Come discover the good news of Jesus, which begins in the stories of Genesis.

Genesis Flier (1).jpg

A Movement of Hope

An open letter to the leaders and members of the Christian churches in and around Bennington

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Ask anyone on the street, in the stores, or around the water cooler what they think our community’s biggest problem might be, and you’ll surely hear a lot about addiction. This is not a new problem, but it is clear that we have a crisis on our hands. Lives are being lost and destroyed, sometimes bit by bit, and sometimes suddenly. The demon of addiction is threatening and destroying our community like never before, and it is time for the followers of Jesus to respond all the more. The situation may seem hopeless at times, but as children of God, we are called to bring the light of Jesus into the darkness.

What does God think about our community’s addiction problem? And what should we, as God’s people, do about it? Some prefer to ignore the problem. Some feel powerless, so find it best to do nothing. Some are happy to pray for “those people” but don’t do anything beyond that. Some are active in loving folks in the midst of addiction. Some want to help but don’t know how. What should you do about it? What would God have you do?

If you look around an average church on an average Sunday morning you might see our nice clothes, our impressive buildings, and our fancy pipe organs (or guitars, if you like), and conclude that “church” and “religion” is only for those who’ve got their acts together.  But, as it turns out, that is the exact opposite of what God says: “God demonstrates his love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). Jesus also said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” (Matthew 5:3). God’s heart is also revealed in the Psalms: “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.” (Psalm 103:6).

Many of us believe something like this: “Those folks got themselves into their mess, so they can get themselves out.” But this perspective is missing out on God’s heart we find all through the scriptures and in our own experience. Yes, addiction often starts with a choice, but the life-destroying consequences of that choice often far exceed what is imaginable. Especially with opiates, the capacity to choose is quickly stolen away, and is only restored by a miracle of God’s grace. If we wait for folks to “get their act together” before we show them any love, we clearly forget that God didn’t wait for us to get our act together before he loved us.

Our secular friends are doing most of the work in the recovery community: 12-step programs, recovery centers, counselors, doctors, and the like. But if I may be so bold, God’s people have something they do not. We, as followers of Jesus, have the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us. We serve a God who can do far more than we can ask or imagine. We have a Savior whose love cannot be stopped by angels or demons or powers or anything else. The question before us now is: will we, as the Christian community, step up to make a difference? Or will we continue to largely ignore the biggest problem in our community?

I believe “the answer” to addiction ultimately comes down to one thing: relationships. We find hope, healing and wholeness in our relationship with God through saving faith in Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amazingly, God most often chooses us, his people, to express his love to others through our personal relationships. Our relationships are needed for folks to find hope, healing, and wholeness that can only come from God.

So a little while ago, here at First Baptist Church, we started a gathering we call Mercy Street. It is a simple monthly gathering of those affected by addiction: whether in recovery, in active use, family, friends, survivors, supporters, or whoever. Those of all faiths or no faith are welcome to come together for music, story, and prayer. We sing songs of hope and deliverance. We share stories of recovery. We pray hard for each other and our community. And we find relationships, which is where the real power is. Perhaps more will come from this simple beginning, but then again, perhaps it is enough to look someone in the eye and say: “You are loved.”

It is a humble beginning, a seed of a movement of love. Will you join us as we gather to share God’s love with anyone affected by addiction? Will you join us at 601 Main Street in Bennington on February 28 at 7pm?

Individually we can make a difference. Together we can make a movement.

Will you join us?