“Three Saints of Advent: St. Andrew, Apostle” (John 1:35-42a; Matthew 4:18-20)

Midweek Advent Evening Prayer
Wednesday, November 30, 2022

“Three Saints of Advent: St. Andrew, Apostle” (John 1:35-42a; Matthew 4:18-20)

When churches have midweek Advent or Lenten services, usually the pastor tries to come up with a theme that will tie the services together. This year, in looking at the calendar for Advent, I noticed something about the dates for our midweek services. The first three Wednesdays are November 30, December 7, and December 14. Which got me to thinking: November 30 is the Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle. December 7 is the Commemoration of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan and one of the great Church Fathers. December 14 is . . . well, December 14 isn’t anything special, but it does occur right after the Second and Third Sundays in Advent, when St. John the Baptist is featured prominently. So there you go. Thus our theme for this year’s midweek Advent services: “Three Saints of Advent: Andrew, Ambrose, and John the Baptist.”

By the way, some years there are three Wednesdays in Advent; some years, four. This year there are four Wednesdays, the fourth being December 21. And December 21 is the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. So I could have extended the series to a fourth Wednesday, but I decided against it. A fourth midweek service, right before Christmas Eve and Christmas Day: That seemed like a bit much for you members–and your worn-out pastor–to handle!

Three Saints of Advent: St. Andrew, St. Ambrose, and St. John the Baptist. What’s with all this “Saint” business? It sounds too Catholic. I thought we Lutherans didn’t believe in the saints. Oh, we do. We honor the saints. We remember and thank God for them, those outstanding individuals from the church’s past. But the difference is, we don’t look to the saints for any extra added merits we might need to get into heaven or to get our prayers heard. No, Jesus is enough for that. He has all the merits we will ever need to gain eternal life or to have our prayers answered. But we do remember and honor and give thanks for the saints. And this year, this Advent, we’re remembering these three: Andrew, Ambrose, and John the Baptist.

Today we remember, honor, and give thanks for St. Andrew, Apostle. It’s appropriate that we begin with him. Because the beginning of the whole church year always falls on the Sunday closest to St. Andrew’s Day, November 30. This year that happened to be this past Sunday, the First Sunday in Advent. Also, it’s appropriate to begin with St. Andrew, since he is known as the “first called” of the apostles. Andrew was the first one that Jesus called to come and follow him.

What else do we know about Andrew? Well, probably if you know anything about him, you remember that Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, the most well-known of the apostles. How would you like that? To be known for being the brother of someone much more famous? It’s like: “Hi, I’m Frankie Stallone. You may remember me for being the brother of Sylvester Stallone.” Or, “Hi, I’m Tommie Aaron. I did play in the major leagues–not much and not very well. But I am known for being the brother of Hall of Famer Henry Aaron.” Well, that’s Andrew. Famous for being related to someone famous.

But Andrew deserves better than that. He was an apostle in his own right. And one of the “core four”: Peter, James, and John, the inner three; and then Andrew as the fourth. We learn how Andrew became an apostle in our readings today from John 1 and Matthew 4. And in the call of St. Andrew, we learn some things about our own calling to come and follow Jesus.

The reading from John 1 comes first in sequence. At that time, Andrew and some others first were disciples of John the Baptist, before they knew about Jesus. One day John the Baptist saw Jesus walking by and pointed to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” And then the next day, same thing: “Behold, the Lamb of God!” So this gets Andrew’s attention. He’s intrigued, he and the other disciple with him (probably John, the author of this gospel). They begin following Jesus, in hopes of finding out more. Jesus invites them to come to where he is staying, and they stay there with him the rest of that day.

So how does Andrew come to know Jesus and become his disciple? Through the word. First, the word proclaimed by John the Baptist, which draws Andrew to Jesus. Then the word from the Word of God himself, Jesus Christ. It’s God’s word that has the power to turn people into followers of Jesus–the living, active, life-giving word of God.

John the Baptist had declared Jesus to be “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” That’s what planted the seed in Andrew’s heart and mind. “Who is this ‘Lamb of God’? What does John mean by that?” What Andrew would find out, and what you also know to be true, is that Jesus is the one who gave himself as the perfect sacrifice to atone for the sins of the whole world–Andrew’s sins, your sins and mine–the whole rotten lump of it, collectively, “the sin of the world.” Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Son of God in the flesh–he alone has the power to do that. His sacrificial blood, shed on the cross, is the only thing that can remove the guilt of your sin from you. Only Christ can do that.

Hearing that Jesus is the Lamb of God–this is what got Andrew intrigued. Then, spending time with Jesus, in the house where he was staying, listening to him–this is what got Andrew so excited that he wanted to tell someone about him. The first thing Andrew does is to go and find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah!” And then Andrew brings his brother to Jesus, so Simon Peter likewise can be blessed with the same joy and knowledge and excitement that Andrew had.

“We have found the Messiah”: The “Messiah,” Hebrew, or “Christ,” Greek, means the “Anointed One,” the long-promised deliverer, descended from the line of King David. And Jesus fills the bill. He is the heaven-sent Savior who will reign over an everlasting kingdom of glory. He is your king, this Jesus is. He has made you his own, and you will live under him in his kingdom “in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.”

So right off the bat, Andrew is learning some amazing things about Jesus. He learned these things by spending time with Jesus, in the house where he was staying, and listening to him. Same with you. You spend time with Jesus by being here in this house where Jesus is staying. This is where you listen to Jesus, speaking to you through his word. You are like Andrew in this respect.

And then also like Andrew, who told his brother Peter, you know people you can talk to about what you have found in Christ. Who are they? They may be members of your own family, a brother, a sister, a son or a daughter–someone you know who right now is not coming and listening to Jesus. Like Andrew, you can bring them to Jesus. Bring them here to where Jesus is staying and speaking his life-giving, life-changing word.

Which brings us to our other reading, the one from Matthew 4, Jesus calling Andrew and Peter to come and follow him. Andrew and Peter were in the fishing business, commercial fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. But Jesus has other plans in mind for them. “Come on, boys! Come and follow me! I’ve got bigger fish for you to catch!” With this authoritative call, Andrew and Peter leave their nets behind and follow Jesus.

Jesus is going to make them fishers of men. From now on, they’ll be catching human beings with the net of the gospel and hauling them alive into the boat of the church. That’s how you got here, isn’t it? Jesus’ appointed fishermen, the ministers of the gospel, brought you into the boat through the gospel means of Word and Sacrament. Thank God they did, for this is where you are safe and secure, in the boat with Jesus.

So today we give thanks to God for the gift that St. Andrew is to the church. Today we remember Andrew, our brother as well as Peter’s. Today Andrew is bearing witness to us about Jesus, in words we know to be true: “We have found the Messiah!”

Published in: on November 30, 2022 at 6:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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