30 November 2021

Praying in Advent 2021:
3, Saint Andrew the Apostle

‘The Call of the Disciples’ … a window designed by the Harry Clarke Studios in Christ Church, Spanish Point, Co Clare, depicts the ‘Calling of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew’ (see Matthew 4: 18-22) – although only one disciple is present (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

This is the Season of Advent and today (30 November 2021), in the Church Calendar we remember Saint Andrew the Apostle. Later today, I am taking part with Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel in the contribution from the Church of Ireland to the world day of prayer for mission organised by the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), and this is followed by chairing a school board meeting later this evening.

Before a busy day begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer, reflection and reading.

Each morning in the Advent, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, Reflections on a saint remembered in the calendars of the Church during Advent;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Today (30 November 2021) is the feast day of Saint Andrew the Apostle, who is often known as the first-called of the disciples.

Before he was called, Saint Andrew was a fisherman, an every-day ordinary-day commercial occupation, working on the Lake of Galilee in partnership with his brother Simon Peter. It is said that when Saint John the Baptist began to preach, Saint Andrew became one of his closest disciples.

When he heard Christ’s call by the sea to follow him, Saint Andrew hesitated for a moment, not because he had any doubts about that call, but because he wanted to bring his brother with him. He left his nets behind and went to Peter and, as Saint John’s Gospel recalls, he told him: ‘We have found the Messiah … [and] he brought Simon to Jesus’ (John 1: 41, 42).

The call in the Gospel reading – to Peter and Andrew, to James and John, the sons of Zebedee – comes to us as individuals and in groups. It is not a story of an either/or choice between proclaiming the Gospel to individuals or groups, but a both/and choice.

Recently, I was visiting one of the surviving Christopher Wren churches in London, Saint Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe on Queen Victoria Street. It is two blocks south of Saint Paul’s Cathedral and close to Blackfriars station, and is the last of Wren’s city churches. The church was destroyed by German bombs during the Blitz in World War II, but was rebuilt and rededicated in 1961.

As the bitter weather of winter takes hold, I am reminded of a prayer, appropriate for Advent and this winter weather, that I found that morning at Saint Andrew’s and which the church offers for people who have no shelter on the streets:

God of compassion,
your love for humanity was revealed in Jesus,
whose earthly life began in the poverty of a stable
and ended in the pain and isolation of the cross:
we hold before you those who are homeless and cold
especially in this bitter weather.
Draw near and comfort them in spirit
and bless those who work to provide them
with shelter, food and friendship.
We ask this in Jesus’ name.

Saint Andrew the Apostle … a sculpture on the west front of Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Matthew 4: 18-22 (NRSVA)

18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake – for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (30 November 2021, Saint Andrew, Anglican Communion Day of Prayer) invites us to pray:

Today USPG is joining with mission agencies from across the Anglican Communion in a day of prayer. May we continue to work alongside each other in spreading the Gospel around the world.

Yesterday: Saint Brendan of Birr

Tomorrow: Saint Ansanus of Siena

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The shrine of Saint Andrew in Amalfi (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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