Advent Devotionals

I have decided to take a break from Morning Reflections for most of Advent.  For one thing, I have a Clerk’s Colloquium coming up that takes me out of pocket for a few days.  Then there is the annual family Christmas in New Orleans.

I will be back up and running for the 12 Days of Christmas.

OK, let me encourage you: A number of our seminaries have Advent devotionals.  Let Advent be a change of pace for you, and engage with one of them.  Pittsburgh’s is nice, free, easy to access, and written by many of their doctoral students.  You can download the whole PDF, or download their app.

pittsburghThe Pittsburgh Seminary’s Advent Devotional is available through a free app for your Android or Apple device. Look for an icon like the one on the left.  Visit the Google Play Store or iTunes Store and search for “Devotions – Advent & Lent” or follow these link from your mobile device: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=edu.pts.devotions (Android) or https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/devotions-advent-lent/id945697533?ls=1&mt=8 (Apple).

May this time of waiting and preparation become for you a time of anticipation and joy.

-Matt

Advertisements

St. Andrew

scotland

Isa. 24:14-231 Pet. 3:13-4:6Matt. 20:17-28

St. Andrew:
AM: Psalm 34; Isaiah 49:1-61 Corinthians 4:1-16
PM: Psalm 96100Isaiah 55:1-5John 1:35-42

St. Andrew’s Day is one of the few Saints’ days that I know Presbyterians still recognize around the world.  Being the national saint of Scotland has its privileges!  Often you will see this festival celebrated in Episcopal or Presbyterian Churches with bagpipes and great fanfare.  Westminster Pres here in OKC used to get the “good bagpipers” on St. Andrew’s Day and First Pres got them on Reformation Sunday.  Guess which “holiday” was bigger at Westminster?  You got it.

St. Andrew is honored in the national flag of Scotland.  Did you know that?  Thought to be crucified on a Cross Saltire, or an “X”-shaped cross, the flag of Scotland portrays just that, a white “X” cross on a blue background.

Andrew attained this status when a few centuries after his death some of his relics were brought to Scotland by a missionary named Rule.  It is that simple.  It was not a deep theological decision, or that Andrew had some deep philosophical or genetic roots to Scotland.  No.

In fact, I find it somewhat ironic that Andrew has come to be associated with a celebration and encouragement of personal evangelism, bringing friends and neighbors to a knowledge of Christ, something that Presbyterians don’t necessarily boast about.

Andrew shows up mostly in a listing of the twelve disciples.  He is only referred to specifically in the Bible a few times.  One is our John reading today.

John reports that the first two disciples who connect to Jesus (Jn 1:35-42) are Andrew and another disciple (whom John does not name, but probably John himself).  Having met Jesus, Andrew goes to find his brother Simon and brings him to Jesus.  He is, in many ways, the first evangelist, instrumental in bringing others to meet Jesus.

So often we think of “evangelism” as “getting saved”Frankly, I don’t know what that last part means.  These two terms are worlds apart!  Take the phrase “getting saved” – Yes, I have been saved by the Blood of the Lamb.  Yes, I am being saved from the wretchedness of sin in this life.  And yes, I am being saved all the time by the power of evil in this world, and will ultimately be saved by all of it.  But that is exactly it, being saved is past, present, and future, all wrapped up into one.  I am still waiting to hear about evangelism!

Evangelism, as best I can tell, is precisely what Andrew did.  It isn’t saving people, for salvation belongs to God, but it is a zeal and a fire for winning people over, or reviving their souls, to this new way.  Andrew was on fire for what he had seen and heard.  A big piece of the evangelistic puzzle then is fiery zeal and excitement about his own life.  It is a telling of good news.  It is not a scare tactic or bad news.

So often, especially down South, I hear of fire and brimstone.  Evangelism based on fear is something that offends God.  I have seen the effects of this in many of my friends, but especially among my gay friends.  They have no need for Christianity.  They have heard enough.  The hypocrites speaking supposed “good news” but telling none of it, only focusing on fire that consumes and destroys lives, have only led to my friends shutting down.  It is unfortunate that a bunch of bad apples have poisoned the well for them.  That is not Christianity!

Evangelism begins with GOOD news, and if one has not experienced much, it is hard to share.

And so I entrust the Apostle Andrew to you.  May his zeal and boldness inspire you.  Walk in his shoes for a while, and envision such powerfully good news that it transformed every fiber of his being.  That is some mighty fine news!

-Matt

P.S. Yesterday was the official saint day for St. Andrew but I missed it because I got distracted by other parts of God’s Word.  Go figure.  Anyway, I didn’t want to overlook this mighty saint of God’s good news