So anyway, I was on my way to this appointment and didn't calculate the time it would take for traffic to be rerouted because of the parade going on Main St. I saw lots of kids, and lots of green. At one stoplight, I was amazed to see the quantity of tents put up, providing makeshift beer gardens. There were banners for every brand of beer canvassing the streets. I saw old men rushing around like ants to prepare, and folks flocking to these temporary shelters to drink green beer. My heart was stricken with so much grief, like one of those moments you feel like you can't breathe.
My mind raced through... how different St Patrick's Day is from its roots... how it wasn't a drinking holiday until the 70's... how the clover was originally used by St Pat to describe the trinity-- and how far our culture has gotten away from that. None of those people flocking to beer tents cared; for them it was just an excuse to party. On a Monday afternoon. I was overwhelmed with a sick feeling for our culture. The parade I passed by was full of children ~ are they just learning to follow in these adults' footsteps? Sure, its fun to dress in green for a day. I did that when I was young. But it seems that in this society, getting pinched for not wearing green turns into the assumption you'll drink when you're older. That's where the current will carry you if you don't stand up.
Along with this sick feeling came a flood of thoughts that I wanted to share with my children. I don't want to blindly have them participate in everything everybody else does, just because everybody else does it. I also don't want to reject celebration in the name of holiness. I don't want to raise self righteous kids. So I decided to tell them exactly what came to mind.
When I got home, I described the scene I had seen to them. I told them that there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing green on St Patrick's Day. There is nothing wrong with parades and clovers and celebration. But in this life, there are sooooooo many things that want to take our focus off Jesus. The celebration of the birth of Jesus has been replaced with tradition, consumerism, and stress. The crucifixion and resurrection holiday has been replaced with bunnies and jelly beans. The holiday commemorating a man who preached many people to salvation has turned into a embrace of green beer and a threat of being pinched. Is it wrong to celebrate our nation with stars, stripes and fireworks in July? No! But we should definitely remember the God who made it a great nation, without whom we would be nothing! Most importantly, Jesus may come today! Every prophecy has been fulfilled that opens the door for our Savior to come back, just like he said he would!
So, I told my kids... don't get distracted!! There are a LOT of distractions in this life. The enemy is pulling very hard to get us distracted from God. To worship the creation rather than the creator (Romans 1). So we made up this little clapping beat where we say together, "Don't get distracted!" I will probably repeat this mantra with the children every holiday that comes around. Enjoy the celebration. Enjoy the holiday. Enjoy the birthday. But don't get distracted from the fact that
God gave you everything you have
"every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" James 1.17
...that you are in dire need of a Savior
"the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 6.23
...that Jesus paid the price
"It is finished" John 19.30
...that we are headed to heaven!
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me... if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." John 14.1-4
"Instead, they were longing for a better country-- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11.16
If there is anything distracting you from the gospel today, I urge you to lay it down for Christ's sake.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--
his good, pleasing and perfect will."