It is practically impossible to live in this town and not know that today is Saint Patrick’s Day. You likely know well of this missionary and Bishop and patron saint who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. Legend (?) has him miraculously driving snakes out of Ireland and into the sea, using the three leaflets of the shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity, and raising 33 people from the dead. Today Detroit and much of the world celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day. I myself have had a green beer or two over the years in celebration of the day.
However, I had never heard of Saint Urho before yesterday! Saint Urho is a fictional saint of Finland, created and elaborated by Finnish Americans in Northern Minnesota in the 1950’s, to celebrate their heritage and extend celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day. His celebration is set to March 16, the day before the March 17 feast day of St. Patrick. There even is a poem entitled, “Ode to Saint Urho” – but it’s too long for me to quote here.
It truly is a legend that he saved the Finnish grape crops from a grasshopper plague by yelling, “Grasshopper, Grasshopper, go away.” One indicator is that St. Urho’s Day originally was May 24th but was moved to the 16th to complement the celebrations on St. Patrick’s Day. Another indicator is that the ode originally spoke of frogs being chased away instead of grasshoppers.
My suggestion is that we add a third day to the celebration – a day to celebrate you and everyone who reads “Thursday’s Thirst.” Why a “Saint You Day”? The truth is stronger than any legend, and the truth states, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2.9-10)
Paul’s letter to the church in Rome carries the greeting, “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1.7) 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians similarly refer to their recipients as saints. And you know, those letters were written for and to us just as much as they were for and to those people long ago.
A distinction, though, must be made between our “sainthood” and that of Patrick and Urho. The story of their sainthood is connected to miracles they performed. Our sainthood is 100% the miraculous work of our God and Savior, Jesus. It is only after God makes us to be his holy people that we are able to do “saintly” things … “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2.10)
“To all the saints in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1.1) Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4.4-7) And way back when the psalms were written we were encouraged to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord.” (Psalm 100.1)
Sometimes, I think, we take life way too seriously. Oh, yes, there are times when we are called to be serious – “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”(Ecclesiastes 3.1) But there is also “a time to laugh, a time to dance, and a time to embrace.” (Ecclesiastes 3.4-5)
In my mind, St. Urho’s Day is a time to laugh. Saint Patrick’s Day is a time to dance. And Saint You Day is a time to embrace – a time to embrace and to “make a joyful noise to the Lord and come into his presence with singing, knowing that the Lord is God. It is he who made us (as the humans we are and the saints he sees us to be), and we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” In fact, all three days are days to “give thanks to him and bless his name, for the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and this faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100)
Yes, I am going to enjoy today … just a I enjoyed yesterday and anticipate enjoying tomorrow. While I know that the axiom “anything worth doing is worth overdoing” is in reality foolishness, I also know that foolishness (in moderation) is good for us all. “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5.1) so I will freely laugh about Saint Urho … even as I may follow that up with the sipping of a green beverage. And through it all I will “make a joyful noise to the Lord – for his is good and his faithfulness endures forever.” Yes, there is the time to laugh … and to dance … and to embrace while we walk on this earth – for, in God’s eyes, every day is “Saint You Day.”