Wednesday, November 30, 2011

St. Andrew's Day

It’s St. Andrew’s feast day, and that makes me think about Scotland. I love Scotland—not as much as others (e.g., Jonathan Chesney)—but I do love a good bagpipe (when outdoors and at a great distance) and a good haggis (when accompanied by a goodly quantity of Scotch whisky). But I’m actually a little embarrassed that I think of Scotland first when I remember it is St. Andrew’s day.

St. Andrew never went to Scotland. His bones made an unexpected pit stop, which led to the founding of the city in Scotland that bears his name, but his ministry was never focused there. In some ways, the connection between Scotland and St. Andrew is a happy accident. I don’t know about the connection between Andrew and Russia, another nation for which he is the patron saint, but I’m willing to bet he never made it to Moscow either.

All of that to say that there are better reasons for us to remember Andrew, and I think today’s gospel lesson bears that out. In Matthew’s version of the calling of the disciples, Andrew and Peter are the first whom Jesus calls. In that account, we get scant details about the background—Did the disciples know who Jesus was? Had they heard enough about him by reputation that they were willing to follow him so readily? Had they met him in a previous, undisclosed encounter? I think the answer is no…or at least it’s not supposed to be yes. Matthew tells the story this way because he wants us to be most impressed with Andrew’s willingness to say yes.

Honestly, we don’t know a lot about Andrew, which is why his connection with things like Scotland dominate our remembrance of him. He’s mentioned several times in the bible, but always as a disciple or apostle and never about what he did after Jesus ascended into heaven. Early church leaders record that he went to places like “Cappadocia, Galatia, and Bithynia” before being crucified on a supposedly X-shaped cross (hence the flag) (newadvent.com). But what we do know about Andrew is that he said yes, and he did so without hesitation.

What does it mean to remember St. Andrew? What does it mean to have faith like his? Well, what is Jesus calling us to do? And are we willing to drop everything and follow? If we want to remember Andrew, let’s start by asking how we might follow in his footsteps—not to Scotland or Russia or even Bithynia—but out of whatever boat we’re being called from and without hesitation.

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