Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Three? Four? Does It Matter?

Last Saturday was Saint Patrick’s Day. I saw an article in which a preacher expressed displeasure about the way things are going. I’ll admit that I think it’s ironic that some people celebrate the life of a man who may have been a Baptist preacher by drinking green beer, but his concern was something else. His concern was with the shamrock. He had noticed that the four leaf clover is replacing the three leaf shamrock as the symbol of Saint Patrick’s day. He wrote of how is mother had taught him that the three leaves represent the trinity, but people are beginning to think more about the luck of a the rare four leaf clover instead.

He does have a point about people turning to luck instead of to God. I’m just not sure people are really thinking about luck as much as they’ve heard the term “four leaf clover” so much that they assume that’s what we should be using on Saint Patrick’s day. But I question whether we should be concerned because the three leaves represent the trinity. Granted, the legend of Saint Patrick says that he used the leaves of the shamrock to teach about the trinity, which is why the three leaf shamrock is the symbol of Saint Patrick’s Day to begin with. Who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind in the future.

The thing is, God makes four leaf clovers, just like he does three leaf clover. I’ve never seen anything to tell me that God made clover with three leaves because he wanted it to represent the trinity. Saint Patrick may have used it as a teaching tool, but God never told us that was why he made it with three leaves. He also made poison ivy with three leaves. Does it also represent the trinity? What about the four leaf milkweed? It naturally has four leaves. What does it represent?

I think we get to hung up on the memories of our youth sometimes. If our mother taught us about the trinity using clover, I can understand us wanting to hang on to that memory and not letting anyone mess with it. But how well does clover work as a teaching tool today. How many kids commonly recognize clover? Since fewer people are feeding cattle, many people just see it as a weed in their yard. Would it not be better for us to look for other illustrations that kids are more likely to identify with? Yes, the shamrock has three leaves that are part of one plant, but kids won’t be reminded of the story every time they see clover, if they rarely see clover. For all they know, clover has four leaves. Let’s move forward with new teaching tools rather than trying to hang on to those of the past.