Saint Andrew the Apostle

The collect for today, the Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle and Martyr, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

ALMIGHTY God, who didst give such grace unto thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, that he readily obeyed the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him without delay: Grant unto us all, that we, being called by thy holy word, may forthwith give up ourselves obediently to fulfil thy holy commandments; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle: Romans 10:8-18
The Gospel: St. Matthew 4:18-22

Limbourg Brothers, Martyrdom of St. AndrewA native of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, Andrew was a fisherman, the son of the fisherman John, and the brother of the fisherman Simon Peter. He was at first, along with John the Evangelist, a disciple of John the Baptist. John the Baptist’s testimony that Jesus was the Christ led the two to follow Jesus. Andrew then took his brother Simon Peter to meet Jesus. In Eastern Orthodox tradition, St. Andrew is called the Protokletos (the First Called) because he is named as the first disciple summoned by Jesus into his service.

At first Andrew and Simon Peter continued to carry on their fishing trade, but the Lord later called them to stay with him all the time. He promised to make them fishers of men and, this time, they left their nets for good.

The only other specific reference to Andrew in the New Testament is at St. Mark 13:3, where he is one of those asking the questions that lead our Lord into his great eschatological discourse.

In the lists of the apostles that appear in the gospels, Andrew is always numbered among the first four. He is named individually three times in the Gospel of St. John. In addition to the story of his calling (John 1:35-42), he, together with Philip, presented the Gentiles to Christ (John 12:20-22), and he pointed out the boy with the loaves and fishes (John 6:8).

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Advent Meditation and Sermon for the Eve of the Feast of St. Andrew

What saith the Scripture?

St. Andrew is the first saint of the Church year, the Advent saint, really, since his feast day almost invariably falls within or near the season of Advent. The readings for The Feast of St. Andrew complement the advent theme of the coming of God towards us in Word and, ultimately, in the Word made flesh. The theme of revelation is a critical aspect of Advent. Scripture is the crucial vehicle of the revelation of God towards us as Paul’s vibrant passage from Romans makes so abundantly clear.

What do the Scriptures say? The question is in part rhetorical. Paul has in mind the grand pageant of the Torah, the Jewish Scriptures, at once in their limited sense and in a more expanded sense. In other words, the Torah refers both to the first five books of Moses, the Pentateuch or five scrolls, but extends as well to the whole of the Hebrew writings, just as the word Gospel refers immediately to the writings of the four evangelists but extends its range of meaning to the New Testament and even to the whole of the Bible which for Christians means the Old and the New Testament, not to mention a host of other writings in between, as it were. But Paul’s question is more pertinent. What do the Scriptures say?

They reveal God to us and in turn they reveal things about the truth and untruth of our humanity. The concept of revelation especially in and through the witness of the things written about God and Jesus Christ is the critical theme and idea. It is altogether about what comes from God to us and not about the imaginations of our hearts. Revelation is mediation. God’s reveals his word and truth through human agency, of course, but the point of revelation is that the content is divine. We are made only too aware of concepts which require our thinking but which are not of our own making. That is the challenge to faith and to anti-faith; in short, to atheism in almost equal regard. The very idea of revelation is about what is mediated to us and this challenges our thinking and our living. Things long ago and far away and in vastly different contexts and circumstances somehow speak to our present; our experiences and those who have gone before us are gathered up into the eternity of God. We are bidden to attend to what is universal however much it is made known through what is particular and limited.

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Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent

“Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness”

Adventus Christi. The Advent of Christ. What does it mean? It means the coming of Christ. Advent celebrates the coming of God towards us in Jesus Christ. One of the Advent questions asks “who is this?” who comes. In the coming of Christ we learn the meaning of the coming of God towards us.

The mystery of Advent is wonderfully captured in today’s readings. Paul talks about the law, explicitly referencing the Ten Commandments understood as fulfilled in love, a love which has to do with our “cast[ing] off the works of darkness” and “put[ting] on the armour of light”, even more “put[ting] on the Lord Jesus Christ”. It marks a transition, a turning from darkness to light, to our lives as lived in the light of God’s Word and Truth. The Gradual Psalm prays that God will turn us as well as “turn[ing] again and quicken[ing] us” and for what end? “That thy people may rejoice in thee.” Advent is about the turning of God towards us in Jesus Christ.

What does that mean? It means that there is at once joy and judgment, even the wrath of the angry Christ! There is joy in the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem but, in the wisdom of Thomas Cranmer in the sixteenth century, instead of ending the passage with the response of the multitude who answer the question “Who is this?” by saying “This is Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee,” the reading continues with the story of Christ’s “cast[ing] out all them that sold and bought in the temple”, “overthrow[ing] the tables of the money changers”, and berating all who heard him with the words: “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” The contrast could not be greater between the joyous cries of “Hosanna to the Son of David” and Christ’s words of anger and rebuke at the betrayal and misuse of the temple, the house of God, and the things of God. Yet that is exactly the point of the Advent.

There is joy and there is judgment. The joy is in the judgment. God cares enough to turn to us! Why? Because he seeks our turning to him. It means that we have to confront the works of darkness which stand in such stark opposition to the light of Christ. How do we begin to turn and be found in the turning of God to us?

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Week at a Glance, 28 November – 4 December

Monday, November 28th
4:35-5:05pm Bible Study – Rm. 206, KES
6:30-8:00pm Sparks – Parish Hall

Tuesday, November 29th, Eve of St. Andrew
6:00pm ‘Prayers & Praises’ – Haliburton Place
6:30-8:00pm Girl Guides – Parish Hall
7:00pm Holy Communion and Advent Programme I

Wednesday, November 30th
6:30-8:00pm Brownies – Parish Hall

Friday, December 2nd
6:00-9:00pm Pathfinders/Rangers – Parish Hall

Sunday, December 4th, Second Sunday in Advent
8:00am Holy Communion (followed by Men’s Club Breakfast)
10:30am Holy Communion
4:00pm Advent & Xmas Service of Lessons & Carols, with KES (Gr. 7-11 at Christ Church)
7:00pm Advent Service of Lessons & Carols – KES Chapel (Gr. 12s)

Upcoming Events:

Tuesday, December 6th
7:00pm Holy Communion and Advent Programme II

Tuesday, December 20th
7:00pm, Capella Regalis Concert, “To Bethlehem with Kings”. $12.00.
Pulled Pork Supper & Concert (5:30-6:30, concert at 7:00) $ 20.00; (Supper only – $ 10.00).

The First Sunday in Advent

The collect for today, the First Sunday in Advent, being the Fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, now and ever. Amen.

The Epistle: Romans 13:8-14
The Gospel: St. Matthew 21:1-13

Jordaens, Christ Drives Merchants from the TempleArtwork: Jacob Jordaens, Christ Driving Merchants from the Temple, c. 1650. Oil on canvas, Louvre.