For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our fathers and mothers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (English Standard Version)
A Word of Hope
It is St. Patrick’s Day, both a religious and cultural holiday, celebrating Archbishop Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Though there is some historical lack of clarity about the timeline, one or both of two men (Palladius being the other), whose deeds are credited to the beloved Saint, brought Christianity to Ireland.
Since the several early church traditions proclaimed it a feast day and it fell during Lent, it was a welcomed opportunity to drink alcoholic beverages and party rather than abstain! Perhaps that is one reason that the scripture text chosen for today refers to drinking (though not alcohol)!
Apostle Paul is writing to the Christian community in Corinth to warn them about idolatry and straying from following Christ. From this Rock that is Christ flowed the spiritual water that sustained their ancestors and that continues to provide thirst-quenching refreshment when we are parched by the difficult journey of life.
To use another metaphor that a therapist friend refers to, life is a journey that comes in waves like the ocean. Though we may not know when the next wave is coming, we can learn to surf!
St Patrick rode the tides of cultural difference, enslavement and separation from family and country, and the powerlessness and uncertainty that comes from finding yourself at the hands of others. He didn’t give up, but persevered and offered Christ’s love by embodying it.
Let us not forget the great sacrifice of those who have gone before us to bring us to this time and place in our journey. We can be the Christ for those who are drowning in the ocean of life.
Holy One, may Christ’s love and laughter shine through me so that others may face life with courage, faith and hope. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Gary Kindley