I Have a “Confessio” to Make…
Just a few minutes left on St. Patrick’s Day, but tonight I’ve been revisiting his story. Now, so far I haven’t uncovered any green beer or Leprechauns, but I did come across some very good stuff!
We can’t recover a lot of A.D. fourth-fifth century details, mainly due to a lot of sixth century legends of his magical powers. What we do have is his Declaration or accounting for his life or Confessio (not a typo, but a cognate straight from Latin).
It’s Patrick’s 2 Corinthians. Here he answers his critics and gives a very personal accounting for his spiritual journey and ministry. We can trust it’s his, because it’s not all positive, but it is all accounted for in God’s mercy. Few people in ministry are this honest about their journey, fears, and failings. It’s the age of spin now, but not then.
Don’t know that he drove out snakes. Do know that he was held captive 6 years. Don’t know that he held magical sway over any who threatened. Do know that God gave him favor and speed in several key situations. There appears to have been nothing special about him, but a simple, radical obedience to God in all things after faith. God said, “Do it,” and He had him a man in Britain who would.
God called him through dreams to go back to the land of his captivity and spread the good news. Thousands answered his invitation. He saw as validation that many were called away from deep immorality to compassion, service, ministry, and even celibacy.
He had settled on his faith while away (people saw a huge difference) and actually came to love his captors and desired for their full freedom in Christ. 30-40 of Ireland’s 150 tribes were converted. And not by traditional means. He used indigenous forms to tell the old story. He listened to their stories and told his in a way they could understand. He apparently worked within families soon after conversion. With contagious faith, these families would then start a church. Others then branched out right away to extend the faith outward, starting another church. It happened amazingly fast, all in the later years of his life.
Here’s his advice to us:
“According, therefore, to the measure of one’s faith in the trinity, one should proceed without holding back from danger, to make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, to spread God’s name everywhere with confidence and without fear…”
“Confessio” (pt 14)
I have a Confessio to make. It’s to and for everyone I meet. Today and always, where I live, may I make known this good news to everyone who will listen. It’s so amazingly precious. How can we not share? People are so valuable in God’s sight. How can we not love them with our lives. Every one of them.
For further reading: The Celtic Way of Evangelism, by George Hunter, III (2010 Abingdon Press-recently revised and updated)