Monday, December 1, 2008

Feast of St. Andrew

"Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

This morning I awoke to dark skies and a more temperate air temperature. This morning, I was to drive my eldest to Penn Station in Newark so she could return to work in Baltimore. Her Dad went along and took his train to work from Newark rather than our local station. As I went out to warm up the car, the light was just beginning. It was a Maxfield Parrish sky, pink clouds with the that blue hinting of cobalt that he favored so much. Daybreak always amazes me, the muted colors giving way to an explosion of light. Yesterday had been so rainy and dreary. It felt good to welcome the sun. And yet, there was a sinking in my heart because the start of today meant the house would again be empty, our holiday feasting had come to an end, and I would have to let go, for a season, of the real joy of having us all together as a family. Being in separate places doesn't change a thing, make us any less family, take away one ounce of love -but it is still hard to let the boisterous fullness go to a season a fasting, another time of going without. Advent is in full swing.

The official feast day for St. Andrew is November 30th, but since the church calendar had to choose between Advent 1 and St. Andrew, it chose Advent 1 for Sunday and placed St. Andrew, this year, on December 1st. So here were are, reflecting on Andrew the fishermen, the brother of Peter and among those first called to follow Jesus. Andrew is the quieter brother, the steady, level-headed sibling to the mercurial Andrew. He probably had to intervene on Peter's behalf, holding him back from fights and patching up things when a tussle broke out. They were family, and together, they gave up the family business, dropping nets and responsibilities, to follow Jesus. Their lives changed forever in that moment, and the family they left behind must have ached to see their sons, husbands, and fathers again. The family they left behind might have understood their sense of call but they probably missed them none the less. Distance is still an ache among families. Their families might have shed tears, knowing this season of distance would be long and challenging to the familial bonds. This was all new to their extended family. This Jesus was new, and challenged them to reconsider everything they had known with certainty.

In this season of Advent, I want to be like Andrew, solid and quiet, responding with joy to the call of my Savior. I want to be conscious of the strains and challenges my call puts on my family, want to be aware of how loving and supportive they are despite the necessary distances and changes. I want to live with a tender compassion that comes with knowing that transitions are difficult, that growing up is difficult, that being a family together is difficult - with all that knowledge - and still full of a tender love. Advent is a season of turning and waiting. A season of preparing, a season of change. Help me, God, to embrace the change that is coming. Help me God, to let go of the nets and follow Jesus. Help us all to run to your loving embrace. Your loving embrace, which makes us all family together, and reminds us of our need for you and for one another.

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