Sermon for the Feast of St. Andrew

“We have found the Messiah (which is being interpreted, the Christ).”

Andrew is the saint of the transition from our endings to our beginnings. He is the herald of the Advent season; his feast day falls either just before or just within the Advent season. Thus it is no surprise to find him mentioned in the Gospel for The Sunday Next Before Advent. Neither it is surprising that the Epistle for his feast day reflects on the major theme of God’s Word coming to us. His commemoration has very much to do with the important Advent idea of God’s engagement with our humanity through the Word of God. “What saith the Scripture?” is a large part of that idea.

Andrew is one of the two who heard John speak about Jesus as “the Lamb of God” and, as a consequence, followed Jesus. Andrew belongs to the first dialogue in The Gospel of John between Jesus and our humanity. Andrew is one of the first to turn to Jesus and one of the two to whom Jesus turns and asks, “What do you seek?” This leads to the back and forth of conversation that concludes with Jesus’ invitation to “come and see.” That becomes the immediate context of Andrew finding his own brother, Simon Peter, and bringing him to Christ as we heard on Sunday and as alluded to again in the Gospel tonight about becoming the disciples of Christ.

So we have with Andrew the two motions of our life with Christ and in Christ. There is our turning to him because of his turning to us; and there is our following him who bids us learn from him by our being with him. Such is the true nature of our following Christ and the true nature of our fellowship with one another in Christ. Andrew brings his brother, Simon Peter, to Christ. “We have found the Messiah (which is being interpreted, the Christ).” It is a loaded term theologically and doctrinally. It expresses with a certain intensity the nature of God’s engagement with our humanity in Jesus Christ.

Continue reading

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

Luca Giordano, Crucifixion of St. Andrew (Ottawa)A 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).

Continue reading

Prayer Book Society Newsletter

The Prayer Book Society of Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island has released its November 2017 newsletter, which includes a message from PBSC NS PEI President Rev’d David Curry. The following events are planned for 2018.

Jan. 27, 2018
9:30 am – 11:00 am Prayer Book Studies Programme at St. George’s, Halifax.

Jan. 28, 2018
5:00 pm Choral Evensong at St. George’s, Halifax.

Feb. 24, 2018
9:30 am – 11:00 am Prayer Book Studies Programme at St. George’s, Halifax.

March 10, 2018
9:30 am – 3:30 pm Lenten Quiet Day at King’s-Edgehill School, Windsor.

April 28, 2018
Prayer Book Studies Programme at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Charlottetown.

To read Fr. Curry’s message or to obtain more details on the scheduled events, download the newsletter, which is posted here and here.

KES Chapel Reflection, Week of 26 November

What went ye out into the wilderness to see?

Advent. Such a powerful idea. It marks the movement of God’s Word coming to us. Without that motion there can be no Christmas, spiritually and religiously speaking. It is not about Santa Claus, for however much Santa Claus belongs to Christmas, Christmas does not belong to Santa Claus.

There is a far deeper meaning to Advent that speaks to the darkness and the despair of every age including our own. Our two services of Advent and Christmas Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 3rd, the one at 4pm for Grades 7-11 at Christ Church, and the other at 7pm in the School Chapel for the Grade 12s, speak to the critical idea of a culture in which there is a profound respect for learning.

We awaken to self-consciousness only to discover something which is prior to us, something which has a greater primacy than ourselves and without which we cannot make sense of selves as selves. Such is the truth and the goodness of God which cannot lie hidden and concealed but must manifest itself and gather us into itself. Such is the nature of the Good, we might say. Advent is the season of teaching and particularly marks the idea of Revelation. God’s word comes to us as light in the darkness of human experience and evil. The coming of God’s Word in the rich parade and pageant of the Carol Services awakens us to hope and peace, to joy and love.

Designed in 1918 and first performed at King’s College Cambridge, England, the Advent Service of Lessons & Carols was intended to speak to a world devastated and destroyed by the ravages of the First World War by recalling the greater themes of hope and peace.

This year, 2017, marks the 140th anniversary of Hensley Memorial Chapel in the 229th year of the School. The Chapel is a strong part of the culture of learning which counters the corporatization of education which reduces all learning to a means rather than an end, turning education into a consumer product, a for-profit model which does little justice to the classic themes of an education for the whole person and expressed in service and sacrifice for others.

The Scripture readings in Chapel challenge us to think more deeply about what it means to be human beyond the reductive approaches which turn us all into things to be manipulated and used by others. They recall us to freedom and truth, to order and love without which we consign ourselves to a wilderness of our own making, the wilderness of modernity.

Continue reading

Sermon for the Sunday Next Before Advent

“Gather up the fragments”

T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Wasteland, written in 1922, captures an important feature of our modern world. The poem explores through a series of evocative images a world which has been largely destroyed through the madness of war, particularly the First World War, the catastrophic effects of which we are still beginning to try to comprehend and which has largely defined the whole of the twentieth century and carries over into our present anxieties. Near the end of the poem, he captures that world past and present in an arresting image: “These fragments I have shored against my ruins.” The idea is that all that is left of the whole of a culture and a civilization are fragments, bits and pieces to which we cling in the memory of something which once was but is no longer. All is in fragments. All is in ruins.

We, too, are fragmented, unsure and uncertain about ourselves as selves having been willingly or unwillingly reduced to the bits and bytes of the digital economy, little more than clickbait for the benefit of our corporate masters. But over and against Eliot’s image of clinging to “fragments shored up against our ruins,” Jesus offers another image, the image of redemption, of the gathering up of “the fragments that remain that nothing be lost.” A gathering up that has to do with the sense of wholeness and completeness; in short, salvation.

This Sunday is about endings and beginnings in and through which we might begin to find our true end, not in the ruins but in God. How to begin and how to end and how to begin again? These are some of the questions which this Sunday presents to us, The Sunday Next Before Advent. Its very designation hints at the question. We come to the end of the church year and so to the beginning of the next. We stand on the brink of the Advent Season but at the same time at the end of the Trinity Season.

The point is that these times of transition speak profoundly to our lives in pilgrimage. In a way we are constantly turning back and turning towards what truly defines us, constantly circling around our spiritual identity in Christ in whose person God turns towards us.

Continue reading