Sunday, November 1, 2009

November 2009 Parish Letter

“Almighty God, by Your grace the apostle Andrew obeyed the call of Your Son to be a disciple. Grant us also to follow the same Lord Jesus Christ in heart and life, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”

[Collect for St. Andrew’s Day]

Poor Saint Andrew! He always seems to be forgotten or neglected. He always seems to miss the Top Ten lists of remembrances. Of the 672 LCMS congregations in Pennsylvania and the states which border it, only 3 are named in honor of Andrew; Paul, who wasn’t even part of the Twelve, has scores of congregations named for him. When Andrew’s feast day, November 30, falls on a Sunday, it is always trumped by the First Sunday in Advent. Christians are quick to remember Peter, James, and John, because they were the Inner Circle of the Twelve, but Andrew seems to go unnoticed.

Yet, it is recorded in the Gospels that Andrew was the first of Jesus’ disciples. John, the Evangelist, provides that detail in the assigned Gospel Reading for St. Andrew’s Day: “The next day again John [the Baptizer] was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked by and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. . . . One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.”(John 1:35-37, 40) Andrew was with Jesus from the very beginning of His earthly ministry. He was the first of the Twelve to see the fulfillment of John the Baptizer’s prophetic message.

It was Andrew who first bore witness that Jesus was the Promised Christ. It is seen in the message that he brings to Simon Peter, his brother: “[Andrew] first found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ).”(John 1:41) He was the first to know that Jesus is the One sent from God the Father to bring salvation to this sinful world. And what does Andrew do with that information? He goes and brings his brother to Jesus, so that his brother can share in that truth which leads to eternal life: “[Andrew] brought [Simon] to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘So you are Simon, the son of John? You shall be called Cephas (which means Peter).”(John 1:42)

Bringing others to Jesus: that is what Andrew does in the Scriptures. Beyond the lists of the Twelve, where Andrew’s name appears, nearly all of the records of his acts in the Scriptures include bringing others to Jesus. As mentioned earlier, Andrew brings his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus. Andrew brings the young boy to Jesus, when asked to feed the 5,000: “One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?’”(John 6:8-9) When pilgrims come looking for Jesus, it is Andrew who brings them near: “Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.”(John 12:20-22)

Andrew follows Jesus and brings others to Him, even when not knowing exactly what Jesus will do for them. But that is what a disciple does. It isn’t done in search of accolades, not even being the namesake of congregations. It isn’t done in order to climb the rankings of disciples or to be foremost in someone’s recollection. No, it is done, out of hope that what one has personally received from Jesus will be personally received by the individual brought to Him.

That is what is seen in Andrew’s actions. He wants his brother to know that the Promised Christ has come, so he brings Simon to Jesus in hope that his brother will also believe. Andrew knows that he cannot provide food for himself or the thousands listening to Jesus, so he brings the young boy with fish and loaves to Jesus, hoping that He can do something with them. When the Greeks come seeking Jesus, Andrew brings them to Him, hoping they can witness the One who has already disclosed the words of eternal of life to him.

For these actions, you also will be remembered, though not reaching the level of the Big Three or having people name buildings after you. No, you will often be like Andrew, a name listed on a register of disciples, trumped by people of greater rank. But someone will remember that you have led them to Jesus’ presence, just as Simon Peter, the young man, and the Greek pilgrims all remembered Andrew’s actions which brought them to Jesus. For even you can recall who served as your “Andrew,” whoever first led you to Jesus’ presence to hear His teaching and to learn of His works, repeating Jesus’ saying: “Come, and you will see.”(John 1:39)

So Andrew and all disciples of Jesus will never be totally forgotten. Some may fade into near anonymity, pushed by brighter lights into the background. But none who obey the call to follow Jesus, bringing that call to others, will be overlooked. They will be remembered by their fellow servants who follow the Lord in heart and life. They will be remembered by those whom they led to Jesus in hope of sharing His salvation. And at His return, the Lord shall remember all who hoped in Him, saying: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter the joy of your Master.”(Matt 25:21)

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