The kids have the day off from school on Monday. Turns out it is a national holiday in Scotland-- St. Andrew's Day, actually. I wasn't sure which Andrew we were talking about here so I looked it up. Its the disciple Andrew.
It just so happens that I'm leading the service at our church Sunday morning and figured maybe I'd talk about St. Andrew a little bit, maybe find a prayer or confession we could share together. In my digging here are some of the interesting things I found:
* Andrew (with an unnamed disciple, probably John), was the first to follow Jesus of Nazareth, after John the Baptist called him "the Lamb of God". First thing Andrew did was tell Peter.
* The Catholic church traces its apostolic succession back to Peter, but some Eastern Orthodox trace back to Andrew.
* I've always thought Andrew was a cool disciple. Behind the scenes, not too quotable, perhaps, but a presence worthy of mention fairly often nonetheless. We know him best simply for his friendship and brotherhood. I think it is great that the first thing that happens when he meets Jesus is that a lightbulb goes on in his head and he goes and finds someone else and says: "Oh man, I've found someone totally for you."
* After Jesus' ascension, tradition has it that Andrew's mission took him to Asia, even as far as Kiev.
* Andrew is the patron saint of Russia, Greece, Ukraine, Romania, a few smaller countries, and . . . Scotland!
* A "patron saint", incidentally, is a saint designated to a certain group of people to be their intercessor in heaven. Although intercession in heaven by anyone other than Christ is a pretty unbiblical and theologically wanting notion, I must admit that the patron saint designation does have a certain charm to it. I think the tradition arose with decent enough intentions, as people considered it a show of humility to not dare address God directly in Christ. Sometimes I think we might stand to be reminded of this humble attitude, so that we might not take it so for granted when we "boldly approach the throne of grace" in Jesus' name. Anyways, while I don't really go in for praying to patron saints thing, I like that these designations exist. I like remembering and incorporating the ancients into our lives. I feel grateful for the ancients of the faith and the untitled saints of book and song and wish I did more to thank God for them publicly and even at the dinner table. But I digress.
* According to Wikipedia, Andrew is also the patron saint of fishermen, army rangers, rope makers, singers, and musicians.
* Tradition has it that Andrew was crucified for his faith, but requested that he not be hung the same way as his Lord, considering himself unworthy of such distinction. So he was hung on an x-shaped cross, or saltire.
* Apparently there are a few relics of St. Andrew in Patros, Italy. I think a portion of one of his fingers and a piece of his cranium are considered locked away there. On one level I find devotion to relics pretty superstitious and even sort of creepy. But on another level, I love it that such incredible respect can be shown and remembrance given to these people of the past.
* In the 9th century, King Angus MacFergus was leading the Picts and Scots into war against the Angles and in a frightful sleep the night before the decisive day of the battle had a dream where he was visited by St. Andrew, assuring him of victory. According to lore, a white saltire appeared in the blue sky over the battlefield the next day and scared the Angles away.
* And if you haven't guessed by now, yes, this very image is now the Scottish flag (and also accounts for the white x behind the cross on the Union Jack).
I was unable to find a really great prayer or confession to use in church on Sunday, but will do a small quiz on some of the above before reading about Andrew's call to discipleship from John 1. One thing I did find, however, was the following prayer to St. Andrew. For reasons already mentioned I can't really see praying it to him, but putting that aside I must say I find it a beautiful poem of the faith--a sort of imaginative joining-in with that great cloud of witnesses:
"O glorious St. Andrew, you were the first to recognize and follow the Lamb of God. With your friend, St. John, you remained with Jesus for that first day, for your entire life, and now throughout eternity. As you led your brother, St. Peter, to Christ and many others after him, draw us also to Him. Teach us to lead others to Christ solely out of love for Him and dedication in His service. Help us to learn the lesson of the Cross and to carry our daily crosses without complaint so that they may carry us to Jesus. Amen."