By Michael Moore —
On November 9th, 1989 the Wall which symbolized The Cold War came down. Actually, the Wall remained but the gates were opened between East and West Germany. The official demolition began in 1990 and this section pictured above stands at Ramstein Air Base where I spent a fair amount of time as a United States Air Forces in Europe Chaplain Corps Inspector from 2005-2008. I remember the incredible feelings that swept throughout the world and in my own heart when the wall came down. I also remember the feelings I had as a young USAF Chaplain when our nuclear weapon loaded bombers stood down from their 24-hour alert status at the end of the Cold War in 1991. Walls were coming down and there was even a discussion about a Peace Dividend. Sadly, walls and weapons are racing up again as the nation and world retreats behind walls of fear and mistrust.
So what does this have to do with Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland? Patrick was a young man who was kidnapped by Irish pirates in Scotland and sold into slavery. He was a herdsman/shepherd in Ireland for six bleak years. During that time, he turned to his faith to sustain him. He was able to escape out of bondage and return home to Britain. After a period of time where Patrick wrestled with God’s call to ministry, Patrick returned to the Island of his enslavement. He came, not to build walls, but rather to tear down walls as he brought Christianity to pagan Ireland. I can’t even imagine the struggle within his heart as he wrestled with God’s call to return to Ireland. Despite having the odds stacked against him including brief periods of imprisonment at the hands of the Druids and local chieftains, he was successful in building bridges between the Celtic Pagan faith and Christianity. The walls were indeed torn down as Bishop Patrick shared the Gospel with the people of Ireland who had once enslaved him. Instead of bringing a sword, he brought a message of peace.
Sadly, Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated today as a day to drink too much, eat too much, and basically do just about the opposite of what Patrick must have taught centuries ago. Yet, for some reason, as I contemplated this blog for GodSpace, I saw the connection between tearing down walls and building bridges. As President Reagan said to Prime Minister Gorbachev, “Mister Prime Minister, tear down this wall,” at the end of the Cold War, I sensed the call of God to Patrick, “Patrick, tear down the walls of hatred and fear in Ireland. Bring my Good News to the Island and its people.”
As a Christ-follower, I believe that I am called to be a part of the mission to tear down the walls which have been thrown up in the name of fear and so-called religion. As Patrick came to Ireland to build bridges, aren’t we who claim the name of Christ called to build bridges and tear down walls?