Tonight I led an informal vespers service at the chapel at LTSP. My friend Dan took care of the prayers of intercession and other prayers. I handled the homily. I was nervous going into it and my homily underwent 5 draft changes (and I was making changes up to the moment of show time) but it went well! Tonight, our reading was from John 1:35-42 since today is the feast day of Saint Andrew. Our hymns were Rejoice, Rejoice, All Believers (ELW 244) and By All Your Saints (ELW 420). And I think it was the shortest tuesday night vespers so far – we were out in exactly 20 minutes. We were missing our usual 3rd hymn but, really, we just went through it. I hope all the people who need to write papers tonight appreciate that.
I’ll paste my homily/reflection/etc in this post. To be honest, I still haven’t figured out exactly what a homily is but I think I did okay.
I was a junior in college, in a dining hall, enjoying something extremely unhealthy, when my identical twin brother spotted me from across the room. With his tray of food, he hurried over, and I could see that he was dying to share something with me. He sat down and over greasy pizza, burgers, and fries, he broke down his new plan on what to do after graduation. He laid out, enthusiastically, and in detail, that we as a society are at the cusp of a revolution in food creation and production and he wanted to be involved in it. For him, this was a moment reminiscent of the “plastics” scene from the movie The Graduate. This new future ‚Äì a future where fish could be cheaper, more plentiful, and its production more ecologically sound than chicken ‚Äì was what he wanted to jump into. My brother spoke with passion, with drive, with energy, and with power. He had even sketched out a business plan! And as I chewed and munched on my food, it took everything in my power to not roll my eyes as hard as I could. This wasn’t the first dream or vision that my brother had shared with me. And it wasn’t the last. Since we were very little, this dreaming aspect of my brother has been a part of who he is. He is much more of the entrepreneur and the schemer than I am. So, in our gospel reading for today, when I see Andrew coming to his brother Simon, I cannot help but see this episode through the lens of my own experience as a brother, as a participant in the dreams of my own brother, and as a brother who has heard many stories, many dreams, and many many schemes about what is the next big revolution that we need to latch onto, right now. Was this really the first time that Andrew shared his passion with Simon? From my own experience, I find that difficult to believe because entrepreneurs and dreamers rarely ever have just one dream.
And, to me, this is who Andrew is. He is described by the author of John as a disciple of John the Baptist ‚Äì Andrew is listening to that voice in the wilderness, listening to that call from God, listening to that teacher crying out for a return to God to make right that relationship that was grounded in the experience of the Exodus, the prophets, the Torah, and the Writings of Scripture. And when John the Baptist speaks, Andrew listens. John sees Jesus and cries out that this Jesus is the Lamb of God! And Andrew pays attention. This announcement wakes him up and he, along with an unnamed disciple, follow Jesus from a distance. And when they are given the chance to meet with Jesus, to spend the day with him, to dwell with the Incarnated One, they do not turn it down. And Andrew doesn’t just stay with Jesus. Instead, he goes out to share what he has heard, what he has seen, and what he has witnessed. Andrew is the first named disciple of Christ and the first disciple to share the news of Jesus to others. And his first target of that sharing isn’t the King, it isn’t the Roman rulers or a learned religious teacher. He doesn’t return to his neighborhood synagogue or to John or to the gates of his city to talk to the passerby, the poor, or the mighty. Instead, he finds his brother and tells him to come and see Jesus.
And Simon does.
It is the dreamers who become the first disciples of Christ. It is these entrepenuering individuals who are first called by Jesus to come and stay with him. But Jesus doesn’t stay in that limited world. He is not to be merely circulated among those who are already looking for and striving for a different world. Andrew doesn’t stay with Jesus. He goes out and brings Simon! And this, to me, is the first step in the inclusiveness of God’s call and God’s grace. This is a grace that is not contained among one group of people but is open to others. It would be nice if I could identify with Andrew and imagine myself as being among those who would have been the very first called to Jesus Christ. But I know that this isn’t true. There is already an Andrew-type person in my life and even though we share the same DNA, the same parents, the same background, and many of the same experiences, I am not Andrew. My brother is. But Jesus is open to me too. This, for me, is part of the miracle that is grace ‚Äì that this grace is so big, so vast, and so wide, that I am included too.
So, on this feast day of Andrew the Apostle, after the holiday of Thanksgiving and at this start of Advent, as I and all of us await Christ’s entrance into the world in His birth through Mary, I thank God for the gift of brothers who are always scheming, dreaming, and who are never content with just everyday things. May they continue to call us and open us towards our Gracious God, towards God’s ways, and to teach us all to proclaim and dwell with God’s greatest gift ‚Äì our crucified and Risen Lord.