Thursday, November 30, 2006

Minor Feast of St. Andrew - Sign of the Approach of Advent

A blessed St. Andrew's Day to all of you! Unfortunately, unless you are Scottish, you may not take much notice of this day (Andrew is traditionally the patron saint of Scotland.) The role this minor feast plays most often is simply as a marker of where to begin the season of Advent. The first Sunday of the new season thus being the one closest to St. Andrew's Day.

However, as the Augsburg Confession reads: "Our churches teach that the history of the saints may be set before us so that we may follow the example of their faith and good works, according to their calling." (AC, XXI, 1 - McCain ed.) As Lutherans we should take notice of all the saints that we might be encouraged by their example, seeing the living Christ working through them.

Andrew has the honor of being the first disciple called by our Lord, and also as being the first missionary (he led his brother Peter to Christ.) In Greek he has been known as protoclete, "first called." A native of Bethsaida, he appears in Holy Scripture with his brothers now living in Capernaum. Andrew was originally a follower of John the Baptist, and thus was one of the first to hear the Agnus Dei: "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." With such a clear witness to the Christ, it is no wonder that Andrew was quick to follow him.

By trade, Andrew, with Peter his brother, was a commercial fisherman. Jesus called them with: "Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Although not prominently featured in the Gospels, he does appear after this at the Feeding of the 5,000 and in the Upper Room at Pentecost.

The appointed collect for this minor festival expresses the spirit of Andrew in a simple and straightforward way: "Almighty God, by whose grace the blessed apostle Saint Andrew obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, grant us also to follow him in heart and life...." (LW, 95) The hymn "By All Your Saints in Warfare" also helps us to appreciate his initial witness: "All praise, O Lord, for Andrew, The first to welcome you, Whose witness to his brother Named you Messiah true. May we, with hearts kept open To you throughout the year, Confess to friend and neighbor Your advent ever near." (LW, hymn #193, vs. 5)

May Andrew thus be more than just a marker for Advent. He is the example of all who would willingly follow Christ, not counting the cost, ready also to witness to that Christ to all.


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