Deuteronomy 30:11-14 :: Romans 10:8b-18 :: John 1:35-42
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.
Today is the last day of the church year, and, coincidentally, the day the church remembers Saint Andrew the apostle and his response to the call of God in Jesus Christ.
If you have been keeping up with the readings in our Ordo, you will notice that the gospel we just heard is not the one prescribed for this morning’s liturgy. The reading originally set for the Holy Eucharist today comes from the fourth chapter of Matthew, where we read that Andrew and his brother, Simon Peter, were fishermen. In Matthew’s account, Jesus meets them at their nets: “follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”
While I absolutely love the scene as Matthew records it, the reading prescribed for Evening Prayer—which we have just heard from the gospel of John—has caught my praying attention in a different way. We see something deeper and more searching in the figure of Andrew in this Johannine account; something worth meditating on as we recall the year behind us.
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘what are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher). ‘Where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’
John’s Andrew is, we might say, a kind of type or paradigm for many of us though out our spiritual lives. There is a pattern of being brought and of bringing others—of curiosity, question, and open invitation that speaks to and from our deepest searching and longing. Come and see.
John’s Andrew has been questioning deeply the concerns of his heart. The preaching and life of the holy man in the wilderness, John the Baptist, have compelled and inspired him. He is searching for God. John the Baptist must have known something of the questions and desires in Andrew’s heart. As if cued by an image shared in the spiritual intimacy of rabbi and student, we can imagine as John meets Andrew’s gaze before pointing to Jesus. Look, Andrew, here is the Lamb of God.
In the face of Jesus, Andrew meets the truth for whom he searches. What is more, the encounter moves Andrew so deeply that he shares the experience with his brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon, son of John.’ Here is that pattern of being brought and of bringing others—of curiosity, question, and open invitation that speaks to and from our deepest searching and longing. Come and see. Speaking as an Episcopalian, this pattern of invitational evangelism resonates with my own experience quite consonantly. My own conversion began with the invitation of a friend. “We sing some really great music at St. Mark’s. Come and see.” Her invitation spoke to my aspirations as a musician, but it pointed nonetheless—whether she or I knew it consciously—to the face of Jesus.
In the midst of all of this bringing and being brought; of curiosity, question, and invitation; there is for each of us a moment of encounter that, whether all at once or over the course of many years, changes who we imagine ourselves to be and who we imagine God to be. And while there are surely many other kinds of encounter along the spiritual road, Andrew’s story reminds us that our encounters with God will generally come to us through secondary causes—that is, in the concrete, flesh-and-blood lives of Image-bearing humanity. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.
Andrew’s story is but an early example of the many blessed beautiful human feet that brought and bring us good news; who bring us nearer to God.
Who has been an Andrew figure in your own life—someone who has known your story and invited you into a fresh revelation from God?
Who has been a John the Baptist figure for you—someone whose life has inspired you to seek God more deeply and has pointed the way toward the face of Jesus?
As we seek to hear God’s word to us today, let us remember with thanksgiving all those human feet who have brought us good news. Let us pray also for the grace to be those feet that bring God’s good news to the world, gently and openly inviting the world to come and see.
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