By Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
Some of the following might be included in the festivities when you gather your family together to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Or, you may let your own creativity loose and make up your own plans based on the following.
Here are eight segments in Patrick’s long life:
~ Patrick was born towards the end of the fourth century; he grew up in Britain, a rich kid with a religious father and grandfather.
~ He didn’t take his family’s faith, their spiritual practices, seriously.
~ When he was a teenager, he was captured by Irish pirates and sold into slavery to a tribal chief and druid leader in Ireland.
~ He spent the next years out of doors shepherding his master’s animals. During this time he became a true believer in Jesus.
~ God spoke to him in a dream and told him to escape to the coast where a ship would be waiting to take him away. This is indeed what happened.
~ He became a bishop in the church in Britain where he served until he was nearly fifty. At this time he dreamed that an Irishman was beckoning him to come back to the land of his captivity.
~ He was commissioned to return to Ireland – a place where he understood the language and culture – this time to spread the Good News of life in Jesus.
~ For nearly 30 years, Patrick served God in Ireland until his death.
The results of his work and that of his fellow believers were dramatic, successful and are remembered, even up until today.
Make a copy of the eight items above. Cut them apart into eight strips, each strip containing one of the segments. Pass the strips out after ‘shuffling’ them so they are not in proper order. Let family members work together as a team until the items are placed on a table in sequential order. Let someone paste or tape the strips onto paper and post somewhere for review.
Divide Hebrews 11:32 – 12:1 into portions for family members to read aloud in turn.
Something to talk about: Would you list Patrick with the members included in this “Hall of Fame” found in Hebrews 11? Why, or why not?
Further discussion: What role did genuine faith in God play in Patrick’s life? Why do you suppose he did not take God seriously when he was a growing boy in his home? How do you think God revealed Himself to Patrick when he spent so much time out of doors? What risks did Patrick take because he listened each time to God’s direction in dreams. How does God usually give direction to us today? Has anyone been led by something they dreamed? If so, briefly share.
Here’s another approach: Give each family member a blank sheet of paper and let them draw a picture of their favorite part of the story of Patrick’s life. Show the picture and share why this is the favorite part.
Do you know someone, either personally or through your reading, who reminds you of Patrick? Maybe a New Testament character? If so, share who it is and tell what about this person’s life makes you think of Patrick of Ireland.
Spend time praising God for men and women of faith who follow God’s leading in order to tell others about Jesus, even when it means taking risks. Name them out loud before the Father. Tell God if there are things that keep you from following Him…ask family members to pray about this with you.
One final idea: An interesting way for a group of people to respond to a story is to give individuals time to think and then complete the following sentence out loud as God prompts: “I wonder….”
(I‘ve written a brief lesson guide to help children in a Sunday School or children’s church class learn about Patrick of Ireland. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to receive it.)