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Archive for December, 2010


PARISH QUIET DAY RETREAT-SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18th

Saint Alban’s Advent Quiet Day Retreat of prayer and meditation has been moved to Saturday, December 18th beginning at 9:00 a.m. The three meditations will focus on the nature of prayer, proper ways of praying and the thoughts on maintaining a good prayer life. Meditations will be loosely based on the short book Prayer: A Field Guide by Canon Nalls, but no prior readings are necessary for the retreat. Copies of book, will, however, be available for purchase after the retreat with all profit going to the ACC’s Society of Saint Paul to support mission work. The retreat schedule is as follows:

0900-Matins
0930-Coffee
0945-First Meditation-Why pray?
1045-Break
1100-Second Meditation-Problems of prayer: what if God says, “No”?
1200-Benedictine Lunch (Soup and Bread) with a Reading
1300-Third Meditation-Prayers to redeem the time.
1400-Break
1415-Evensong

Silence will be kept throughout the day, including break times, except for the readers and during Matins and Evensong.
Please e-mail the church office at stalbansacc@gmail.com or ring 804-262-6100.

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(Given at Saint Alban’s, Richmond, Virginia)

“Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”-St. Matthew 11:11

Here we are at last on Rose Sunday, the Third Sunday in Advent.  This Sunday used to be called “Gaudete Sunday,” Gaudete being the Latin word that means “rejoice,” but with the ending that makes it a command. So we are really being commanded to rejoice.

So why should we rejoice? Certainly, Advent is a time for rejoicing because it is a season that revives our expectation of the most joyful event in history: the birth of Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Most High God, born of the Virgin Mary. As both the Prophet Zephaniah and St. Paul proclaim, the Lord is in our midst, He is near to us, and with Him the kingdom of Heaven is near.

Today, even these very different liturgical colors call to mind the third last thing-Heaven. We could engage in some rose-colored thinking about Heaven. After all, there are so many popular notions about Heaven—you know, the angels, harps, fluffy clouds, chubby cherubs floating about. The sentimentality of it even struck a curmudgeon like writer Ambrose Bierce who defined Heaven as,

A place where the wicked cease from troubling you with talk of their personal affairs, and the good listen with attention while you expound your own.

Certainly each time I think of Heaven, I always come back to one a favorite quote, “If I ever reach heaven I expect to find three wonders there: first, to meet some I had not thought to see there; second, to miss some I had expected to see there; and third, the greatest wonder of all, to find myself there.”

There is much to think on, when we think about Heaven. How many times do we ever hear convincing homilies about heaven (or for that matter the other last things, death, judgment, and hell)?  Rather than being an affirmation of the realities of eternity, most homilies and sermons tend to be vague.  This is particularly the case with funeral homilies which usually end up in a humanistic celebration of the person who has died.

In our modern day culture we are continually bombarded by secularism, and Fr. Romano Guardini, writing in his book Eternal Life, What you need to know about Death, Judgment and Life Everlasting, calls the deprecation of the eternal, of the heavenly, by modern society an evil. He is right: it is evil. As Christians,  we need to be continually reminded of the most basic fundamentals of our Faith, especially the reality of heaven and of the eternal.

Our Gospel lesson at first blush doesn’t seem to have much to do with Heaven. It is an interchange between two emissaries from St. John Baptist who ask Christ, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” Essentially, they are posing the question as to whether Christ is the Messiah of Hebrew prophecy. And look at the response, Jesus answered and said unto them, “Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Christ is telling them about his authority. There is talk of Our Lord’s upcoming earthly ministry, present reality, and the miracles that He will perform. But with these miracles Christ gives them and us a glimpse of Heaven where all things are made new.

You see, beloved in Christ, Heaven is far beyond what we now experience. We do not have adequate words or images to describe it. And our culture unfortunately has developed stereotyped ways of talking about heaven. Some of them are “cute”, you know,“Good old Joe is now up in that big golf course in the sky.” And, maybe a little better are images of heaven as reunion. You’ve heard this before, you know “She is finally back with her husband (mother, son, sister) whom she loved so much.” I suppose this at least expresses something about the “communion of saints.” Nevertheless it leaves out what makes the communion possible: seeing God himself. I don’t know about you, but the thought of heaven as a giant “sharing” session sounds to me…well… more like the other place.

An image of heaven that I personally love is from the Chronicles of Narnia,. by C.S. Lewis. Narnia is a kind of heaven and it is ruled by a magnificent lion called Aslan, Aslan represents Jesus. After the children who are the protagonists have spent some time in Narnia, Aslan tells them they must return to their own world. The children become very sad and bury themselves in Aslan’s mane. Aslan reassures them that one day they will be able to return to Narnia. The children say, “it is not Narnia. It is you, Aslan.”

It is about Christ, it is about our Lord.  For you see,  God is the fullness of being. Things here can only dimly reflect him. When we stand before him any other joy, or pleasure, or beauty, or goodness will seem as pale. This joy which excels everything else is called the “Beatific Vision,” that is seeing God face to face. (I Jn 3:2, I Cor 13:12, Rev. 22:4). In the words of the Psalmist (Psalm 22:26-27):

The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live forever. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

“Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.” Heaven will fulfill those deep longings of your heart. But this is not a yearning for place. It is not about clouds and harps, cotton-candy clouds and cherubim.  Our deepest longing is really for a person, for Jesus himself. To be with him is the kingdom of heaven.  Perhaps someday you and I can come to the point of saying, “It is not heaven I desire. It is you, Jesus.”

You see, the proper focus should ever be on Christ, this hunger for Him brings Heaven into focus for us in the here and now. Listen to the words of the Epistle to the Ephesians:

Blessed [be] the God and Father ofour Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: (Eph 1:3) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Eph 2:4-6)

That’s the work that has been done for us—heaven awaits. And, so we have two visions, one for the people of Christ in the here and now and one for the future, and both are visions of heaven of life with and in God. But we are called to know him now, to experience His grace and his love right now, to be part of His people right now. And in the life to come, we shall see Him, not as through a glass darkly, but in those heavenly places.

Shouldn’t this  fill us with humility, gratitude, and a desire to greater service? Shouldn’t we love Christ, to desire Him? And isn’t it a call that we ought to be more dedicated in our service to Christ? Let us ask, this Rose Sunday whether we have cause to rejoice. Is the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven among us? We’ve got just a few days of Advent to think about this, to reflect on this. Do we truly believe the word Emmanuel, God-with-us? If we believe it, then we must show it.

Heaven will fulfill those deep longings of your hearts. It is the pearl of great price. It is Jesus himself. Amen.

\\\

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(Given at Saint Alban’s Pro-Cathedral, Richmond, Virginia)

“AND there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars…” –Luke 21:25

This morning we have come to the Second Sunday in Advent-a season of expectation. But when we hear the Scripture, we likely wonder if there is “anything new under the sun”, or the moon and the stars. We have heard it all before; we know the songs by heart. We can anticipate what John the Baptist, Paul, Luke, Jeremiah, Isaiah and the others are going to say even before we hear them.

And there is the bustle of the season. We will also make our way to the stores and malls, and spend hours shopping on the internet. We will make lists and wrap presents and put up decorations. There are cards to write and cookies to bake, and endless school functions and parties to attend. And, so, when the Christmas story is read, don’t we find it all so very familiar?

The challenge to us, beloved in Christ, is to shake off the routine. Each Advent is a return to the beginning…but it is always a new beginning. There is a new message, in a new way, in a new year. A priest told a story about being on an Advent retreat. The leader of the retreat asked them to consider what they were waiting for, what did they expect? He said, “The most disastrous answer you can give is nothing!” The priest was surprised at how strongly he said it and, worse, suspected that the most disastrous answer of the season was his. He expected nothing. So, I am asking you the same question: What are you waiting for this Advent? What do you expect? (story by Fr. Gerald Mullally, St. Patrick’s Church in Milford, Pennsylvania)

I think the answer for many is, frankly, nothing. We do not expect miracles or judgment. We really only expect gifts, cards, visitors, and long lines in stores. Very often we get exactly and only what we expect.

Advent is not just about preparing our hearts for the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas. We live in the now, but not yet…between the first coming of Jesus when he was born at Bethlehem and his second coming at the end of time when he will come as Judge of all. Here’s that second Last Thing-judgment.

More than four out of every five Americans agree that “we all will be called before God at judgment day to answer for our sins”. In the Creed which we recite every Mass we proclaim: “He will come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” But that judgment thing, that Last Thing, we like to pass that right by, don’t we? To put it in secular Christmas terms, we concentrate on the presents, but don’t like to think about the fact that there might be coal or, worse, nothing in the stocking.  Author and theologian Peter Kreeft notes that the great project of the prince of the world is to convince us that God is so-judgmental in this life, and all merciful in the next, rather than the opposite which it the reality. This draws us to think about the presents and goodies that await and to forget about amending our lives, because one day we may be judged.

Why did the early Church long for the Second Coming of Jesus and with it judgment? Why was it the Church expectant? Why are we invited now to reflect on that Second Coming and judgment and long for them during Advent? Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem, his death and resurrection are not yet the final victory of evil. The final victory overevil will take place when Jesus comes again the second time as judge. The Second Coming of Jesus will complete what Jesus began with his birth in Bethlehem, his death and resurrection. It will bring the fullness of salvation to the world.  God is present with us throughout all of history but at the Second Coming of Jesus all of history will be seen as leading to God’s final purpose and goal. Advent is a time for that “great expectation.” It is time to refresh and renew what we expect from God.  In the words of the Psalmist, we ask,

Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD. (Psalm 25)

This should be our Advent expectation, really our plea for the time of judgment, as we wait for Him “who shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.” (Luke 1:32)

Ok, well and good, that’s just great for the future, but what about the here and now, our daily lives?  It is the same thing, the same question, or questions.  “What do you expect from God, and how do you let your expectations influence your life?”

“There is story about a Midwestern town that was having a bad drought. Crops were dying and the life of the farm town itself was in danger. A local pastor decided to hold a prayer service to ask for rain and asked all the people to come and bring with them symbols of their faith that God would deliver them. People showed up with rosaries, statues of the Blessed Mother, crosses, prayer books, Bibles and even some holy oil. All came forward and prayed for God to send rain. Finally, there was only one young girl left. Without any hesitation she came to the front and slowly opened her symbol of faith: a brightly colored umbrella. She knew what it meant to expect something from God!” [from Msgr. Gerald Mullally]

As Christians, we should have the greatest expectations of all. We expect peace with God. We expect peace of soul. We expect to never walk alone. We expect God to be closer to us than our breath itself. We expect Christ to return and bring the fullness of the Kingdom or God. None of that is expecting too much. It is only expecting what God has promised.

When we say we are expecting something, we cannot continue to live as if we expect nothing. Do you expect eternal life? Then choose it by protecting life wherever it is threatened: before birth, in the poor and the sick. Do you expect God’s mercy on the day of judgment? Then, beloved in Christ, show mercy now. Show it to those who have wronged you, to those who seem like enemies, to strangers in need.

Do you expect to be made new, to be perfected? Well, then keep your eyes turned toward the Lord, and let none that wait on thee be ashamed by sin. Hear the call of that truly expectant prophet  Isaiah who called Israel to, “Shake thyself from the dust; arise…” The expectant life, the Advent life calls us to rise from the dust of the old life, the dust of sin, in confession and penance, in humility.

Do you expect to “rest in peace?” Then be a peacemaker here in the now: don’t use violent language, don’t respond to the first hint of aggression with retaliation in anger, don’t take offense too easily, stop complaining.

In the words of the Epistle, “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is a call to the community, those who want to live in the body of Christ, Jesus was not just talking when He said that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is at hand, right here, with us. If we don’t expect to see it, don’t feel it, it’s likely that is because we are not actively choosing to live in it.

Archbishop Wulfstan of York, writing just after the turn of the last millennium, offers us the Advent invitation, the truly expectant way of living, “…, beloved people, let us do what is needful for us, protect rselves earnestly against that [day] and help ourselves while we may and might, lest we die when we least expect to. But let us love God above all other things and work his will as earnestly as we can: then he will repay us as will be most pleasing to us when we have the best need.”

And so, on this Second Sunday in Advent, “Let integrity and uprightness preserve [us]; for [we] wait on thee.  (Psalm 25:21)  To Him be praise and glory in all the world,
world without end, Amen.

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Saint Alban’s Advent Quiet Day Retreat of prayer and meditation has been moved to Saturday, December 18th beginning at 9:00 a.m.  The three meditations will focus on the nature of prayer, proper ways of praying and the thoughts on maintaining a good prayer life.  Meditations will be loosely based on the short book Prayer:A Field Guide by Canon Nalls, but no prior readings are necessary for the retreat.  Copies of book, will, however, be available for purchase after the retreat with all profit going to the  ACC’s Society of Saint Paul to support mission work.  The retreat schedule is as follows:

0900-Matins

0930-Coffee

0945-First Meditation-Why pray?

1045-Break

1100-Second Meditation-Problems of prayer: what if God says, “No”?

1200-Benedictine Lunch (Soup and Bread) with a Reading

1300-Third Meditation-Prayers to redeem the time.

1400-Break

1415-Evensong

Silence will be kept throughout the day, including break times,  except for the readers and during Matins and Evensong.

Please e-mail the church office at stalbansacc@gmail.com or ring 804-262-6100.

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(Given at the Parish of Ss. Andrew and Margaret, Alexandria, Virginia)

“How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.” –Romans 10:15.

I was honored to be asked by Fr. Nick to be asked to deliver the homily on this feast of Saint Andrew and to celebrate the Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan.  You see, whenever we come around to Saint Andrew’s Day in the church calendar I am reminded of my mother who was a grand-child of the diaspora—no, not the one from the book of Exodus–but one that ran from Glasgow to Belfast to the States to here.

She was a woman who took great delight in letting everyone, and I mean everyone, know about her Scottishness, particularly my father, of the plight of the poor Englishman—the Englishman whose national costume is a worn raincoat patented by one Charles MacIntosh, a Glaswegian. She would remind my dad that the Englishman drives a car fitted with tires invented by John Boyd Dunlop of Dreghorn…Scotland.  At the office he receives his mail with adhesive stamps which, although they bear the queen of England’s head, were invented by John Chambers of Dundee…Scotland.  The Englishman might have occasion to use the telephone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell of Edinburgh, which is of course, in Scotland.

At home in the evening, the English squire watches the news on a tellly which was invented by John Logie Baird of Helensburough…Scotland and hears an item about the U.S. Navy founded by John Paul Jones of Kirkbean, Scotland. Now having been reminded too much of Scotland of the Scots, in desperation the gent picks up the Bible, only to find that the first man mentioned in the foreword of good book is a Scot – King James VI – who authorized its translation.

Nowhere, nowhere can an Englishman turn to escape the ingenuity of the Scots. He could take to drink but the Scots make the finest in the world—in despair over the omnipresent Scots, he might think of ending it all, only to find that his breech-loading rifle was invented by Captain Patrick Ferguson of Pitfours, Scotland.  So he goes back to the previous step, sipping single malt and contemplating his fortune, safe…safe in the Bank of England which…founded by William Patterson of Dumfries, Scotland.

Ingenious and omnipresent, these Scots—they seem to travel everywhere. And they have been a faithful people, for there is a long history of Scottish missionary zeal throughout the world.  There are few things more formidable than a Scots preacher—in one church in Indiana where I served as a youth pastor during college they maintained that their Scottish founder rode more than a million miles in his 50 year ministry. Perhaps that is why the expression in his portrait which hung in the sanctuary was so pained.  But, this missionary zeal may well account for Saint Andrew’s patronage over the Scots.

And so we turn to the Saint whom we commemorate this day-one of the patron Saints of this parish. Saint Andrew’s life teaches us so much about Christian discipleship and the need for missionary zeal, and gives us a great example as we have just begun this holy the season of Advent. I’d like to focus on three elements: Andrew’s time at the Jordan, his bringing others to Christ, and then his preaching of the Gospel even unto death.  

We first encounter St. Andrew at the Jordan River with St. John the Baptist, “the forerunner”—the forerunner of the Jesus, who was there making straight the paths to receive the Lord. Those paths were straight enough in Andrew’s heart and mind so that when John Baptist, one day, looked up and said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Saint Andrew immediately left John and went and saw where Jesus lived. (John 1:35) After only a few hours, Andrew had  recognized Christ Jesus as the Messiah.  He went to fetch his brother Simon, told him that he had found the Messiah, and brought Simon to Jesus.

Andrew and Simon Peter then returned to their fishing business in Capernaum, but not for long.  As we hears in our second reading from  Gospel of Saint Matthew (St. Matt. 4:18), Jesus saw them again and called them from their boats to make them fishers of men. Their response: they immediately abandoned their nets and became his followers. (John 2:43-44)

Later on we find Andrew bringing both the boy with the five loaves and two fish to the Lord-the raw material for Jesus’ great miracle of the feeding of five-thousand. After Pentecost, Christian tradition says Andrew proclaimed the Gospel in Greece, which led to his martyrdom in Patras, being crucified on a decussate or X-Shaped cross in Achaia, northern Greece.

The passage in our first reading is a free quotation from the prophet Isaiah, applied by Saint Paul to the glorious proclamation of the Gospel to the world, and therefore especially appropriate for our consideration upon the feast of the first missionary, Saint Andrew. The text brings before us the dignity, importance and moral beauty of missionary work.

Advent brings home for us the fact that world is waiting in darkness even as on the eve of the Nativity.  Individual souls even in nominally Christian lands are waiting to have brought home to them, by the words or influence of some Christian worker, some missionary for Christ, that truth which is the most precious in the world—the value of the soul as the object of God’s love, its future in heaven or hell, and the means of its salvation as summed up in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 The circumstances under which Isaiah uttered this beautiful passage recounted in the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans is important to our message.  The second portion of the prophecy of Isaiah, from the fortieth chapter to the end, is concerned with the return to Jerusalem of the exiles from Babylon.  It is mingled with the prophecy of that glorious restoration that he foresees the establishment of the Messianic kingdom, and the proclamation of the Gospel to all nations.

First, then, Jerusalem in the time of Cyrus is represented with a watchman upon its walls, announcing the appearance over the surrounding mountains of the messengers who herald the approach of the returning exiles. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings that publisheth peace.” The messenger is glorified, and made and becomes beautiful on account of the message that he brings. Long had the city lain in ruins. Now once more it was to be rebuilt, and the worship of God restored in His temple.

And by the time that Saint Paul wrote, the Messiah had come and had been rejected. He had wept over the city He loved so well, and proclaimed its doom. But with the fall of the earthly Jerusalem the universal kingdom of Christ was to be established at the Second Advent. So Saint Paul applies the passage, not to those who are approaching, but to those who are leaving Jerusalem—going out from Jerusalem–with the knowledge of Christ, to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world.

As we hear in the words of the Psalmist, “BE joyful in the LORD, all ye lands: * serve the LORD with gladness, and come before his presence with a song.”  The great commission as prefigured in the Psalms.

Jew and Gentile alike lay in the darkness and moral ruin; but the message of peace was sent forth, and the messengers who bore it were the missionaries of the Gospel. In our own day the majority of the world is still in the darkness of heathenism, or slipping into unbelief, and even among Christian nations there is much room for missionary work,

St. Paul, in applying these words of Isaiah, gives expression to his conception of the splendor of missionary endeavor. It is the bringing to souls, held in a captivity worse than that of Babylon, the good news of salvation; and the first messengers who cross the mountains around Jerusalem to go out to the world with the Gospel of Christ are the Apostles.

Beloved in Christ, it is to missionary work that all the Christian world at one time or another owes its knowledge of Jesus. Every Christian nation has its story of the pioneers of Christianity, its soldiers of Christ, the first who brought the good tidings to that country while it was still heathen. But of all this noble army Saint Andrew is the leader, the first missionary, the first to follow Christ, the first to bring another soul to Jesus.

You see, Saint Andrew had truly the missionary spirit of promptness in accepting Christ’s invitation, “Come and see” (Saint John :39); of zeal in bringing another, his brother Peter, to Christ; and later, of readiness in obeying Christ’s call to leave his boats and nets, and to follow Him. He had the missionary’s love of souls and fellow man, the missionary’s appreciation of the capacity of the soul for the call of Christ. (St. John 12:20-22).

As Saint John Chrysostom once noted, look at the faith of Andrew and his brother and their obedience.  For though they were in the midst of their work when they heard his command they did not delay or procrastinate. They did not look inward to what they had, and try a cost benefit analysis or even say, “Let us return home, and talk things over with our family.” Instead, “they left everything behind and followed,” even as Elisha did when he followed Elijah. For Christ seeks this kind of obedience from us, such that we delay not even for a moment, no matter what excuse we may think that we have to resist the call.

As to the second question, the missionary imperative, Saint Andrew’s first instinct was to bring others to Christ. As we have heard, the first man he brought was his brother Simon. How could he possibly know what the Lord had in store for his brother? His sibling, a simple fisherman like him, was to be made the rock on whom the Lord would build his Church. Who knows what the Christ might do with those we introduce or bring closer to him?

God may need us to be the instrument, or the fishing hook, even to bring future deacons, priests, bishops, religious, or even great saints to him. Likewise, little did Saint Andrew know that bringing the simple boy with fish and bread to the Lord would lead to one of the greatest miracles Jesus ever performed, or that his introducing some Greeks, some non-believers to Christ, would inaugurate a new stage in the spreading of the Good News. We just never know what can happen when we introduce someone to Jesus.

Here is a key lesson for those of us who are traditional Anglicans.  After the years in the wilderness, we have may have grown comfortable, comfortable in our parishes, perhaps even complacent in our lives.  How easy it is to look inward—inward to the boats, and nets and things that make the livings that make life comfortable.  The inward gaze, to run home to evaluate or question the call to follow and fish, that will be the end for us.  We shall become a footnote to ecclesiastical history.  Beloved in Christ, we are called out as was Saint Andrew—we are called to bring the unalloyed faith to a darkened and hurting world.  So, let us redouble our efforts this Advent and in memory of Saint Andrew to bring each other into closer relationship with Christ and to bring others to him—it is our mission.

Finally, Saint Andrew brought people to the Lord not just by his actions, but by his words as well. We don’t have any extant letters  or homilies from him. But we do have an ancient account of his martyrdom, in which we can see the way he died and extrapolate from there to how he would have lived.

The martyrdom account says that it took him 38 hours to die on that X-shaped Cross. During those two days, it adds, he preached incessantly to the people. We can only imagine how difficult it must have been for St. Andrew to preach under those circumstances, difficult even to draw breath.  Yet, he preached the Gospel not only with his lips, but in his life and until its very end. This ultimate witness on the Cross, his two-day long martyrdom, shows us quite clearly how much he was dying to bring the Good news to others, a truth worth living for until the very end, and a truth worth dying for.

So, on this Saint’s day, let us ask the tough questions…the Saint Andrew’s questions.  Do we have his missionary spirit, and what are we doing to show it?  In regard to home missions, are we interested in the souls of our friends and relations in leading them to Christ?

With respect to foreign missions, to our ACC Missionary Society of St. Paul, do we devote time to a study of missionary fields, their needs, and possibilities? Are we regular in prayer for all foreign missions, and especially for those for which we have undertaken to pray?  In almsgiving, do we strive to support others in the mission field?

Surely Saint Andrew’s Day calls us all to renewed effort in missionary work, and Saint Paul reminds us “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things,” and this applies not only to those who go out them­selves into the mission field, but to those who by their prayers and alms enable others to act as substitutes for them.

        And so we turn to St. Andrew as we prepare to cross the threshold of Advent and ask that it might be a great period of preparation for us. May we be serious about making straight the paths for the Lord, so that when we hear the words “Behold the Lamb of God”, we may cling to this Lamb, bring others to Him, and preach Him, with our lives and with our lips, for as long as we have breath! Amen!

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