As many of you know this past Wednesday (March 17th) was St. Patrick’s Day, and I couldn’t help but think about how appropriate this is for the Lenten season. As St. Patrick’s day was coming about, I was thinking about a book that I read while in college. The book is called “The Celtic Way” and is written from the perspective of how it is that St. Patrick ministered to the Celtics, verses how the Roman Catholic Church Ministered to other cultures. The main difference that the author talks about is that Patrick sat on the outside of the communities in order to understand that community, while the Catholic Church would go into the community in order to change the community to be more catholic.
The reason why I felt like this was appropriate for the Lenten season is because it makes you stop and think. How is the ministry of St. Patrick similar to that of Jesus? The answer is, Jesus understood the community he was ministering to. Jesus didn’t just understand that people, but understood their religion, their lifestyle, their traditions, and their way of life. Jesus understood their culture.
Today, we as a church have the understanding that we need to minister to the people around us, but forget that the people around us are not apart of our culture. The church is it own culture and the people of the world also each have their own. So how is it that we as a church are supposed to minister to the culture around us, if we are not first willing to stand on the outside in order to try and understand. Our first steps for many years hasn’t been to understand, but instead to change (much like to Roman Catholic Church), when it should first be to understand.
Jesus already understood that culture around him and he used that culture in order to convey the Kingdom of God to the people around him. Just take a look at almost every time that Jesus speaks. He uses the culture to explain the Kingdom. How can we explain the Kingdom to a culture if we do not first understand the culture? So How much are you willing to try and fully understand the culture around you before you start ministering to the culture around you?
~ Pastor Jillian