St. Patrick’s Day

March 24, 2014

I was going to write this a week or so ago but decided I should “count to 10” before doing so. You know the old device used to delay our speech lest we say something we might regret. A little over a week ago on the Saturday evening before St Patrick’s Day, Ellen and I were on our way home and passed numerous bars along the way. Surprise, surprise, they were all full. Not a space anywhere to be seen amongst all the pickup trucks… not that we were looking for one. I guess since people have to work the day after the actual St Patrick’s Day they decided to get their partying done on Saturday.

Before I go on… do you know who St Patrick was? The short of it… he was a Godly man who, in the 5th century was almost solely responsible for bringing Christianity to Ireland. He is the patron Saint of that country. Who knows how many thousands and thousands of people have come to know Jesus because of him? And his name is synonymous with: intoxicated, inebriated, drunken, tipsy, befuddled, muddled, overcome, under the influence, flushed, maudlin, beery, given to drink, sottish, bibulous, high, tight, blotto, feeling no pain, lit up, bombed, smashed, plastered, out of it, seeing double, having a jag on, canned, crocked, gassed, plowed, under the table, tanked, wired, wasted, out cold, soused, sloshed, looped, pickled, stewed, loaded, boozed up, in one’s cups, mellow, schnockered, sewed up, higher than a kite, three sheets to the wind, boozy, ripped, sozzled, cockeyed, polluted, squiffy, blind drunk, drunk as a lord, drunk as a skunk…

I hope I’m not the only one who sees the tragedy in that! We have taken a day intended to celebrate one of the great Christian men in history and turned it into a shameless drunkfest. And part of the irony… It’s not even an American holiday… i.e., any excuse for a party!

People like to drink… I get that. People like to make drunken fools out of themselves… I sort of get that. People like to drive cars while drunk… don’t get that. People destroy their families by drinking… don’t get that either. But I get enough of it. But why pick holidays intended for more wholesome ideals? July 4th… let’s celebrate our country by consuming a swimming pool full of beer. Christmas Eve… Let’s celebrate the birth of Jesus by drinking ourselves into a stupor. New Years Eve… lets drink so much we can’t remember last year or care about next year. President’s day… I don’t know, let’s just drink!

How do I really feel about it? Frankly… mostly sad. Sad for people who can’t control themselves. Sad for families who lose loved ones to drunk drivers. Sad for children who watch their dads or moms stumble home every night. Sad for kids (and adults) who are immature so they drink to impress others… and sometimes die. Sad because of the three crosses off of Broadlawn Road… a testament to drinking and driving. Sad for people who can’t have a good time without being drunk. Sad for wives, husbands, children and others whose lives have been dramatically altered either by their uncontrolled drinking, or the drinking of a loved one. Just… sad. Well, enough of my rant.

Do you know how to define “alcoholism?” It’s not easy and it partly depends on who you ask. If you ask an alcoholic they will define it in such a way as to exclude most of their particular drinking behavior. Ask non alcoholics… they may not be able to come up with a concise definition but they “know it when they see it.”

Friends, do you know the really sad part in all of this? There is likely nothing that has caused more heartache, broken lives and destroyed families than alcohol. There is some debate in the Christian world regarding drinking. Some think that the references to wine in the Bible are really references to grape juice… uh… NOPE. Jesus very likely drank wine and we know he made it!

John 2: 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

And we know that Paul recommend that Timothy take some wine for what must have been a stomach problem. 1 Timothy 5:23 Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.

But even with disagreements in the Church over whether we should drink… there is little debate over whether we should drink to excess.

Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,

Titus 2:3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.

1 Timothy 3:8 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.

I don’t want to oversimplify this. Nor do I want to be insensitive. But if you have someone in your family with a “drinking problem”… or maybe it’s even you. Seek help! Either for the drinker or the non drinker… seek help! Don’t allow this wickedness to destroy your family or those you love.

In 12 step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous the first step is this: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” In many ways this applies to the drinker and the non drinker. If Alcohol is wreaking havoc with your life… please, please… get help.

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