Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Luther or Patrick?

Here's a fun little quiz for St. Patrick's Day, which falls almost one month, to-the-day, after the church remembers Martin Luther (February 18).

The two men are separated in time by a millennium, and they likely never crossed paths geographically. Can you tell which of the following facts and quotes applies to St. Patrick and which to Martin Luther?

A. Two personal letters are all that survives from his own writing.


B. Over the course of his life, he became closely aligned
with a few local rulers and princes.


C. He was notorious for refusing to accept gifts from
kings and nobility.


D. He was kidnapped and held as a slave.


E. He was kidnapped and held in a fortress for safety.


F. One legend about him involves a walking stick
turning into a live tree.


G. One legend about him involves an ink well thrown at the devil.


F. He often referred to the Franks as ‘pagans.’


H. He often referred to the Pope as ‘the antichrist.’


I. The cross typically associated with him
is known as a cross pattèe.


J. He used a white flower to teach a lesson
about God’s joy and peace.


K. “It would take too long to discuss or argue every single case, or to sift through the whole of the Law for precise witness against such greed. Sufficient to say, greed is a deadly deed. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods. You shall not murder.”


L. “By God's grace, I know Satan very well. If Satan can turn God's Word upside down and pervert the Scriptures, what will he do with my words – or the words of others?”


M. “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.”


N. “If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me.”


O. “O Comforter of priceless worth,
send peace and unity on earth.”


P. “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit,
Christ where I arise”

By almost any normal reckoning, the two men--Patrick and Luther--had very little in common. They lived at completely different times in world (and Christian) history and were therefore affected by very different geopolitical events. They lived in very different places, spoke different languages, chose different lifestyles. Luther was an Old Testament scholar and had spent some time in a monastery and law school. Patrick was a lowly shepherd and then a slave who spend most of his adult years on the frontier. If it were possible to put Luther and Patrick together in the same room for a while, they probably would have had a difficult time understanding one another, (although they would have probably enjoyed a beer together).

Yet...their words and actions were remarkably similar! The same themes of God's grace and Christ's constant presence arise from both men's witness. Both of them speak to us through the ages with resounding clarity, offering up the gospel as the way of life that leads to salvation. What a powerful statement of the unifying power of the Holy Spirit! What a comforting example of how God leads his people with a steady vision of love in the midst of the church's great diversity--and in the face of the world's great adversity!

So, today, raise a pint in memory of all the saints who have gone before us, be it an Irish stout or a German lager, and in thanksgiving to the Lord they served, who is "the same today, yesterday, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8)!