Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We Have Found the Messiah

Homily for St. Andrew’s Day (Translated)
Wednesday, November 28th, 2007
Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Thornhill, ON
The Rev. Daniel F. Graves
Text: Matthew 4:18-22

In the early chapters of St. Matthew’s gospel, we meet he apostle Andrew very briefly. He is a fisherman, the brother of Simon Peter who, with his brother, drops everything to take up that call, “follow thou me.” For him there is no looking back only pressing forward with the new task to become, as our older translations say, a fisher of men. Perhaps, in the terseness of this short anecdote we sense the excitement of the brothers as they take up their new lives as apostles of the Lord.

Could they have imagined what would happen in the days ahead? Legend tells us that both became great evangelists to the far reaches of the known world: Peter to Rome, Andrew to Scythia. Church tradition also reveals that both were crucified, Peter upside down and Andrew on an X-shaped cross. From the simple life of Galilean fishermen to martyrs for the gospel; would they have taken up this new life had they known?

Probably fifteen years ago, I heard Bishop Arthur Brown preach a sermon on St. Andrew. I believe that he took as his text the somewhat more detailed passage from St. John’s gospel in which Andrew answered the call of Jesus to “come and see.” This same apostle then went and found his brother Simon and then ran to his friend Philip and told them, “We have found the Messiah.” While I cannot remember all the details of Bishop Brown’s sermon, one particular refrain has remained with me to this day. As he exegeted the passage, he asked again and again, “who’s your Andrew?” The question is poignant because while Andrew is one who drops everything to follow the Lord, he is also one invites others on the journey with him. He runs, not walks, to gather others. With excitement, with joy, with passion, he lets all the world know that the Messiah has come. His passion does not end when his initial excitement wanes, for we know that he followed his Lord, even unto death.

And so the question remains: Who is your Andrew? When I work with those seeking baptism I often ask this question. Who is you Andrew? In whom have you seen the spark? Who was it that first led you on the path? Who was it in their thoughts, words, or deeds that helped that spark within you come alive? Who introduced you to the one who was knew you from your mother’s womb, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? From whom did you receive the faith once delivered to the saints? Who was your Andrew?

Finally, to whom shall we be “Andrew?” The spark having been lit within us, and we ourselves having taken up the Christian life, to whom shall we deliver the faith? Will we have the passion and excitement to seek out Simons and Philips and tell them we have seen the Lord?

St. Andrew’s day toggles the end and the beginning of the liturgical year. Sometimes we celebrate it before the first Sunday of Advent, sometimes after the first Sunday. Regardless, this makes it the perfect occasion to recommit ourselves to that task of being Andrew to a broken and hurting world, and at the coming of that Holy Babe, announce to those around us we have found the Messiah.

Text copyright The Rev. Daniel F. Graves, 2007. This text may not be reproduced or distributed by any means, in whole, or in part, without the express written permission of the author.

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