The joy of being Andrew

Andrew is an interesting character because his role in scripture is very unassuming.  He is a background character – not given as much space in the stories as his brother Peter, or his friends James and John.  Even Phillip seems to get more attention.  Andrew though does something that is badly needed in the Christian faith – the supportive role.        Andrew recognises Jesus almost immediately.  As we heard earlier Andrew knew his scriptures and had some education.  He was able to read people and situations.  Earlier in John’s Gospel in chapter one where Andrew has heard what the John the Baptist had to say, he meets Jesus.  ‘The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and say to him, “We have found the Messiah.” (“Messiah” means “Christ”) v.42Then Jesus looks up at Simon, changes his name to Peter meaning rock.  And it is Simon Peter who becomes the high flier.  Imagine if you had made the greatest discovery of the year and then your brother is the one who gets the glory.  There is a belief that Scotland chose Andrew as her saint in order to get the Pope on side when Scotland was predominantly Catholic.  Would Andrew have approved of such a move?Perhaps because Andrew is a supporter he would have.  He doesn’t take the huff because he has been given what might be seen by the world a lesser role.  Andrew is happy to be one of the followers, working away in the background.  And when Jesus is looking for food Andrew brings the only food found in the crowd – a wee boy’s lunch.  Andrew knows it isn’t much but he wants to support Jesus.  He wants Jesus to succeed in whatever he is about to do.  I sometimes wonder what the other disciples made of Andrew and his finding of 5 loaves and 2 fish.  In true Scottish fashion – the expression aye right springs to mind. Yet Andrew by being supportive and open minded provided the food that fed 5000 people.  The Good News is that God doesn’t need much to make good things happen – he just needs supportive and open-minded people, willing to take a little risk now and again.  Again we see the supportive role of Andrew again when Philip approaches Andrew to get his advice.  Greek people were not Jews and therefore the Jews were not supposed to associate with them.  Andrew though remains open-minded and willing to take a little risk.  He persuades Philip that they should speak to Jesus and off they go together.  Jesus recognises this as a special moment in his ministry – For God so loved the world he sent his one and only Son – it is not God so loved the Jews, he sent his one and only Son.When Andrew is willing to break the rules and encourage Jesus to speak with non-Jews – Jesus knows that a defining moment has happened.  Interestingly enough it is Peter who has to overcome his prejudice of Gentiles in a later event.  The Christian Faith today is desperately short of Andrews.  There are congregations all over the land crying out for Andrews.  Usually there are plenty Peters – the passionate, hot-headed, foot in mouth faithful ones who learn lessons the hard way but remain true to God.  These people are often in positions of leadership whether as elders, evangelists or ministers.  And all of you know that I am a fan of Peter.  Paul is too serious for me and often too wordy.  But writing this sermon on Andrew I have a growing respect for him.    

I am sure there are plenty Andrews in every church family – overlooked, ignored in favour of Peters or Pauls or crushed by the indignant religious who think they have church all sown up and nothing God does will interfere with that.  We have a very beautiful Andrew in our church family who sent me a tea-bag this week with a lovely wee note.  This Andrew does send me wee things every so often and though I thank Andrew I suspect this Andrew never realises how important her support is.  I know I personally need more Andrews – and I am finally beginning to appreciate just how important Andrew was to God’s plans and to Jesus. Logically therefore Andrews are so important to God’s plans today as well.  If you can’t be a Peter or a Paul – definitely try to be Andrew.  The church and the Christian faith will be so much richer for it.  And the Peters and Pauls who are trying to faithfully follow God’s plan and share the good news need you – for if Jesus needed an Andrew, then surely we too need Andrew.  And Andrews – don’t keep quiet – you are far too important and special to God for that.  An Andrew in the right place at the right time changes the course of history. Scripture proves it.  So when we celebrate St Andrews Day on Tuesday, and get caught up in Scottish pride – take a moment to give a gift of support and open-mindedness to another.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than that.  Happy St Andrews Day to you all.  

Remembering

Today I went to Lanark Grammar School to help faciliate a remembrance at 11am.  It was the first time we had attempted this but it was simply amazing.  The school helpfully set the interval five minutes earlier so that the young people could still have time to get food and relax.  During the week the Chaplains had ran Rememberance themed assemblies and told the young people about this special event. 

I turned up to help Bryan lead this special event and watched as ‘The Street’ area filled with young people.  There was the expected hustle and bustle and slowly the time crawled round to 11am.  Occasional messages of ‘good luck’ were sent as pupils passed by us, and then some teachers arrived as well.  We had no idea what would happen.  Then Bryan called for quiet and immediately conversation stopped, young people who had gone outside into the courtyard came into the street and everyone turned to the stage area.  Bryan told them what we were doing, and asked that everyone respected the silence whether or not they agreed with it. 

Then followed one minute of silence and it was awe-inspiring – to see several hundred young people and staff standing in silence, where only moments before there had been so much movement and noise.  I concluded the silence with Binyon’s lines and thanked them for their silence. Spontaneously there was a round of applause and some extremely impressed staff and chaplains. 

We might believe that young people don’t want to listen, that they don’t have respect for their elders or their history, but today they proved beyond a doubt that it is important to remember.  To remember those who gave their lives in conflict – whether in world wars or in more recent conflicts.  We are grateful to those who worked hard on the front line and behind the scenes.  We empathise with those who have lost loved ones and pray for those who are still sitting at home whilst loved ones fight in wars across the world. 

We don’t like war.  We don’t like conflict.  Yet every day someone fights for another’s freedom.  Let’s take time to step back from the personal wars and conflicts we have in our daily lives, and see if we can bring peace regardless of who is to blame.  Small changes in our own lives can impact on the future of many.  Let’s not just remember but let’s commit ourselves to bringing peace in our world – starting on our own doorstep.

Jesus said:  I leave you peace; my peace I give you.  I do not give it to you as the world does.  So don’t let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NCV)

 They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old:

  Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

  At the going down of the sun and in the morning

  We will remember them.

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today (Kohima Epitaph)

Presbytery Planning Review

presbytery-plan-newsletter-october-2010-2.pdf There are changes afoot as the Church of Scotland look to reduce the number of ministries – partially in response to a financial crisis.  Attached is a copy of a newsletter that Lanark Presbytery put out on the 31st October 2010.  Lanark Presbytery are to reduce by 4 their ministry posts.  This is not an easy thing to do and requires much preparation and prayer. The Area Meeting for Forth takes place on 17th November in the Small Hall at 7.30pm.  All who are interested in finding out what is happening and wants to contribute to discussions for the Forth, Carnwath and Carstairs Churches are welcome to come along.  Please read the newsletter – copies of which are available in Forth St Paul’s Church or any of the Lanark Presbytery churches.