Monday, December 1, 2014

Commemorating St. Andrew

Readers of this blog may have noticed that I am marking the lesser festivals and commemorations of the Church calendar year.  I started doing this as both a personal spiritual discipline and a learning experience.

Unfortunately, due to a busy week and an illness running through the family, I missed two commemorations this past week: Clement, Bishop of Rome (Nov. 23) and Isaac Watts, acclaimed hymn writer (Nov. 25).  However, I did manage to include a hymn written by Isaac Watts in this week's worship service (O God, Our Help in Ages Past, Hymn #320 in the Lutheran Book of Worship).

Today, the Church commemorates St. Andrew, the Apostle, the disciple of Jesus.  John 1:35-42 proclaims that Andrew was the first of the Twelve to be called into fellowship by Jesus.  Andrew responds by telling his brother, Peter, that he has found the Messiah, and rushes to bring Peter to meet Jesus.  Andrew develops a reputation for bringing people to meet Christ; Andrew brings the boy with the five loaves and the two fish to Jesus before Jesus feeds the 5,000 families (John 6:9); Andrew also brings before Jesus a group of Greeks who approached Philip and asked to meet Jesus (John 12:20-22).  While Peter, James, and John formed the "inner circle" among the disciples, Andrew would be the first disciple included when the circle expanded to include others.

After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, Church tradition holds that Andrew preached and traveled within the areas of modern-day Turkey and Greece.  He was crucified by the order of the Roman Governor of Patrae in Achaia; according to tradition, Andrew was tied to an X-shaped cross rather than be nailed to a traditional T-shaped cross.  To this day, the term "St. Andrew Cross" refers to an X-shaped cross; the symbol can be found on several flags, including the flag of Scotland, which claims Andrew as its patron saint.  Russia and Greece also name Andrew as their patron saint.

You can find a fuller account of Andrew's life, career, and legacy here.

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