Today is St Andrew’s day. Andrew is many things – patron Saint of Scotland, known for being crucified on a X-shaped cross. He seems to merit a special Google home page for his day (but that could just be a feature of his Scottish association). He is known biblically for being the brother of Simon Peter, and liturgically (at least in the Church of England) the eve of his feast a Day of Intercession and Thanksgiving for the Missionary Work of the Church. It is these latter two that I have reflected upon today.
I find I think of Andrew as the older brother of Simon Peter. Less inclined to jump in with both feet, and thereby finding himself playing second fiddle much of the time. It was Andrew who brought his brother to Jesus, and in doing so confesses Jesus as Messiah before his brother (John 1.35-42). But I am an older brother, so perhaps I’m looking for a scriptural model to balance the more famous elder brother (Luke 15.11-32).
Andrew is responsible for bringing others to Jesus. It is Andrew who brings the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus, a partial act of the faith Jesus finds lacking in the disciples (John 6.8-9). And Andrew, with Philip, brings some Greeks to see Jesus at the Passover festival that sees Jesus executed (John 12.20-22). John’s Gospel at least seems to depict Andrew as the quiet, behind the scenes, disciple. He brings people to Jesus and doesn’t make a fuss about it.
I like to think that’s why Andrewtide has become associated with mission. Because Andrew gets on and does it in a non-showy way. In an age when evangelism has become a target and a strategy, we need Andrew to remind us that sometimes it’s just about taking people to Jesus and then stepping back. Of course, the church needs its Peters – up front, visible, making fools of themselves. But it was Andrew that brought Peter to Jesus.