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.  

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