This is the last week, the Last Sunday of the liturgical year for the Church. Next week we move into Advent and begin to focus on getting ready for the coming of the King and his kingdom. This Sunday we celebrate our patron saint, Andrew. It might interest you to know that there were two congregations here in Prince Rupert. St. Andrew’s became the Cathedral of the Diocese in the late 1920’s. The other parish was St. Peter’s, Seal Cove. St. Peter’s was meant to be the fishermen’s church and St. Andrew for the West end of the city.
In 1963, owing to the lack of money to keep both parishes going, St. Peter’s congregation was moved into the Cathedral. The chapel on the South side of the Building is St. Peter’s Chapel, in honour of the former Church and parish of Prince Rupert. I mention this because I think we need to be aware of the local history. I believe it is important to use this information to help guide us both in matters of the physical and the spiritual decision making that needs to happen in the working out of the mission. To this I would add that we need to know about the history of the person we are named after... what is his spiritual nature/heritage and how are we like him? Anglican congregations are often name for saints, and for the character of that saint because they believe that this best exemplifies the character of the community to which they belong.
Andrew was unique in the group of apostles in that he was constantly bringing other people to see Jesus. He would listen and respond to their needs, which usually meant getting them close to Jesus. Andrew himself was the first among brothers to believe and to be close to Jesus. When Jesus asked him and John what they wanted from him, they asked to see where he lived, and he was invited to “Come and see”. In the days of Jesus’ he was in the inner circle with Simon Peter, James and John and was often in the lead. This plays out in his ministry later on in John’s Gospel when a group of Greek men who came and asked Andrew to see Jesus.
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honour him.” (John 12.20-26 ESV)
The Gospel this week, for St. Andrew’s Day, (Matthew 4.18-22) registers the claim that Jesus laid upon his original followers. They had spent time together and gotten to know each other. Then the command – not an invitation – came to the four of them to come to follow, and to learn how to be fishers of men. It is significant that the teacher chose the students and not students the teacher. In those days people would follow by their own choice (and still do!), coming and going as they pleased. Jesus chose his followers and called them deliberately into community with himself. Andrew was chosen by Jesus. Andrew left what he had (Family, friends, marriage, children house, business, profession and income) behind.
How do you respond to the call to be a follower of the Lord Jesus? We are confronted with that question each time that there is baptism in this church... Will you obediently serve him as your Lord? Perhaps this is why our mission statement for the Parish reflects this reality: our mission is to seek, to seek and to serve God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. it is not enough for the community of Christ to just do the first two things – to come and to see. Once we have come and seen there is the necessity of serving Christ where we find him in everyday life. In that way our everyday actions, thoughts and prayers become worship. Like Andrew we ought to strive to use the words of a familiar hymn to make them real in our lives: “take me life and let it be – ever, only, all for thee”. We ought to be all about Jesus and the coming kingdom. And if we are to do that then we must, like Andrew, cultivate and active interdependence upon God and each other so that we can be supported and carried thought he challenges of the day as we await that day when the kingdom is a full reality.
All of us can be Andrews. All of us are and can be believers, followers and some of us even leaders of the community of the Lord Jesus. Let us ask God to give us grace to deepen our faith in Christ and the strength to effectively confess and proclaim that Jesus is Lord of all the nations. The message must go to the ends of the earth, and people must see the salvation of our God. Will you not take them?