While I’m being all vintagey (see yesterday’s post about Lent), I figured I’d pass on a timely reminder I received yesterday from Orthodox Christian Fellowship, the national college ministry for the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity. (Yes, there is one!)
This year, they’re pointing their member ministries toward celebrating the “Real St. Patrick,” and clearly we Evangelicals can celebrate this hero of the faith, too. While not all their suggestions might work for your ministry or in your context, they might be something to springboard from. Be sure to see their downloads, too.
st. patrick as a hero
Examining Christian heroes from throughout the centuries holds amazing potential for impacting our students – while also tying in to Millennials’ love of “roots” and the presumed authenticity that goes with it. I would highly encourage you to consider working “heroes of the faith” (both ancient and modern) into your college ministry in some way – and St. Patrick’s not a bad person to start that list.
He was a missionary to the people who originally enslaved him, don’t you know.
st. patrick’s day as opportunity?
Meanwhile, St. Patrick’s Day at some campus tribes is one of those moments for “unified debauchery.” (See also my post on 4/20 at Colorado from last year.)
Penn State is one of those campuses that goes a little nuts around this holiday; their annual “State Patty’s Day” took place on February 26th this year. (Read a newspaper article here.) But I also heard from one college minister that
On a day entirely dedicated to binge drinking and green paraphernalia, over 500 people decided to be “in it, but not of it.” Rolling up their sleeves, stepping out of their comfort zones, and risking for the purpose of being a peaceful presence, these hundreds were part of a different kind of green that day: the green of life, goodness, and shalom.
How we handle those moments will differ… but in any case, it takes a lot of wisdom and grace. Plus, I imagine, a healthy dose of watching for natural opportunities to arise after a whole lot of prayer and personal preparation. (Don Miller covered one approach in that great “Christian confessional” chapter in Blue Like Jazz, and I know campus ministries take the annual opportunity to share in the midst of Spring Break craziness – just to name a couple more examples.)
st. patrick’s day as unity opportunity
Lastly, this would be one opportunity to venture over to the OCF chapter or Catholic Center on your campus, right? Because your groups might just be able to celebrate the life of St. Patrick together, learn about St. Patrick together, or otherwise come together around this Church History celeb.
Ooh – are there any other Irish-related organizations at your campus? Ethnic, language, or other things? I don’t know – but maybe there’s unity potential there, too.