“Their sound went out into all the earth,/and their words unto
the end of the world.”
Andrew is the Advent saint. His feast day either immediately anticipates Advent or it falls within the first week of Advent, indeed immediately after the First Sunday in Advent. In either case,this feast inaugurates the cycle of the Church’s commemoration of the Saints throughout the course of the year. There is always, it seems to me, something rich and significant about beginnings.
Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and, therefore, of New Scotland, Nova Scotia, as well, perhaps in both cases because of the connection to the sea. Yet, Scotland is a long ways from the land of the New Testament, a long ways from the setting of the story of the calling of the brothers Simon Peter and Andrew, and the brothers Zebedee, James and John, a long ways from the sea of Galilee. How much further away is Nova Scotia. This reminds us of the missionary impulse of the Christian faith. This doesn’t mean that Andrew ever laid eyes on either Scotland or New Scotland!
Yet, the spiritual point is clear. Those who follow Jesus become the ones who proclaim Jesus and make him known even “unto the ends of the world.” For much of the first millennium or more, Scotland must often to have seemed to be the very end of the world. Perhaps, too, the same might be said even now of Nova Scotia. And yet, the word has gone forth on the wings of the saints and has been carried forward by their witness to Jesus Christ. Critical to that witness, as the readings on this feast day reminds us, is the Scripture. The Feast of Andrew belongs to that pageant of Word and Song which is part and parcel of the Advent of Christ.
The epistle reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans is a kind of mini-treatise on what we might call ‘the theology of revelation’. It focuses on the significance of the Scriptures and upon preaching. The primary form of preaching is simply the proclamation of the Scriptures. Those that follow become those that are sent and those who are sent preach the good news of our salvation in Jesus Christ. There is an important emphasis upon the hearing of the Word of God through the preaching, meaning the proclamation of God’s word.