Author Topic: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent  (Read 13553 times)

J. Thomas Shelley

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St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« on: November 28, 2009, 12:51:31 AM »

When the buider and I laid off the corners to excavate for my house we oriented the longest side toward the south southwest.  By placing most of the windows on this sunniest side, we hoped to capture some of the free heat of every cloudless winter day.

This orientation was to have an unexpected consequence each Advent; one that we could not have anticipated.

As sun moves southward toward the winter solstice, our apparent sunrise actually becomes earlier; closer to the time listed in an almanac.  In the summer the rising sun is blocked for several hours by a hill to the northeast; in the winter sunrise is almost directly over the notch in the hills carved by Fishel Creek as it makes its way from its headwater springs at Brown’s Orchards.

For a few days at the end of November the morning sunrise streams through my office window, then through the narrow hallway leading to the rest of the house, above the kitchen counter-wall before coming to rest squarely on a doorway frame on the far side of the great room.  The red-orange glow is as focused as a theater spotlight.

This apparition is at its peak on November 30, the Festival of St. Andrew the Apostle.  St. Andrew’s Day determines the beginning of Advent:  The Sunday nearest is always the First Sunday in Advent.  If November 30 falls Monday through Wednesday; Advent begins the Sunday preceding; Thursday through Saturday Advent begins the Sunday following.

After much searching I found a small icon of St. Andrew to hang on that sunlit doorframe.  Now, on those days surrounding the Apostle’s festival, the icon’s gold leaf glows with an ethereal radiance for a few minutes at sunrise, for a time just long enough to pray the Benedictus of Morning Prayer:

By the tender mercy of our God,
   the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
   and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the way of peace.

            --Luke 1:79-80

Surely  more than ever, our nation and our world stand in need of this mercy.  And the icon of St. Andrew can teach us much about how that mercy may come to shine in all the dark places.

The compassionate mercy of our God is a gift of grace, free and undeserved.  The saint on the icon, though surrounded by gold, radiates no light of its own.  Only when bathed by the focused beam of the rising sun does it emit a glow.

So also for St. Andrew  the Apostle, who had no claim of any special  talent or ability.  My friend and pastoral colleague Jeffrey Wilson has written of St. Andrew:

He never moved to center stage, but played well an essential supporting role. He was, so someone observed, the great introducer.  Three times St. Andrew took someone to Jesus, first and perhaps most significantly his own brother Peter, who Jesus appointed to head the earthly church.  Andrew’s was a ministry of moving along the fringe of the crowd and making sure someone got the attention he needed when otherwise his needs and gifts might have been ignored.

But when touched by grace, touched by the One who is light from Light, Andrew would emit a glow of grace sufficient to mark him unmistakingly as a disciple of Jesus.  Even foreigners and strangers saw that reflected light; some Greeks at Passover approached Andrew with the deepest yearning of the soul:  “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

Our journey this Advent and Christmastide is a one that is surrounded by light.  We begin the new Church year by hearing Isaiah’s prophecy of peace, which concludes:

O house of Jacob,
   come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

            --Isaiah 2:5
And our journey is completed on Epiphany with another prophecy of Isaiah:

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
   and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you....
Nations shall come to your light,
   and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
   
            --Isaiah 60:1,3

Throughout this season, may we so radiate the light of Lights that others would see Jesus in us; that they would walk with us in the light of the Lord; and that we all would be guided into the way of peace.
Greek Orthodox Deacon -Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2009, 12:52:25 AM »
Originally published in the parish newsletter November AD 2001.
Greek Orthodox Deacon -Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2009, 12:12:03 AM »
After (too) many days of a stubborn stratus layer and fog, a cold front finally swept through on Saturday night bringing a cloudless sunrise, just in time to bathe the Icon for Advent Sunday.    By week's end the sun angle will have changed and the Icon will no longer be so illumined until a few days just after Epiphany.
Greek Orthodox Deacon -Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

pj

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2009, 12:40:53 AM »
Thank you for sharing your article.  I was thankful to read something of a devotional nature and found your words helpful as Advent begins.

vicarbob

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2009, 06:45:19 AM »
Me too, thank you. The proper use of icons are a blessings, yet another gift of the EO to the Church.

Papster

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2009, 11:45:54 AM »
Thank you brother Shelley for sharing your thoughts.

I had just logged on to see the latest exchanges about the darkness that has enveloped the ELCA, and then there was your story of light on St. Andrew's day.

May we also reflect that light in this dark time! 

Dave Benke

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2009, 12:34:19 PM »
Great article, Pr. Shelley -  it was so sharply and well-crafted that I have utilized the concept of St. Andrew for my own message to our district for Advent.  Thanks!

Dave Benke

Dave_Poedel

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2009, 12:55:55 PM »
Well said, dear brother Tom.  Your absence from the General Retreat this year left a hole in my soul; please know that you are most highly valued by God, and very secondarily by me.

Your story has motivated me to seek out an Icon of St. Andrew.  If you remember, would you please share your source of the icon?

vicarbob

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2009, 01:02:17 PM »
It is good to see you again Padre, was hoping you would contribute to the receipe post....Polish ya know!
pax
Bob

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2009, 11:08:34 PM »
Very well said.  In our Treasury of Daily Prayer the ancient breviary reading for the day was quoted by Valerius Herberger in the Writing, recording how St. Andrew greeted his own cross with these words:  "Hail, precious cross, you who were dedicated by the body of Christ; may He receive me through you, who redeemed me through you."  (p. 968)

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2009, 05:28:14 PM »

Your story has motivated me to seek out an Icon of St. Andrew.  If you remember, would you please share your source of the icon?

Orthodox Church Supplies of America
35 Orchard St.
Boston, MA

Order line # 1-800-632-2260

www.orthodoxchurchsupplies.com

For excellent quality, reasonably priced Russian Icons try:

http://www.alexandraint.net

I just purchased a gorgeous Icon of St. Nicholas from Alexandra--9 x 12, trimmed in brilliant Advent blue.  It will be displayed this coming Lord's Day as it is the first time that St. Nicholas Day has graced a Sunday in Advent since 1998.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2009, 08:10:51 PM by Rev. J. Thomas Shelley, STS »
Greek Orthodox Deacon -Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2010, 04:32:20 PM »
Bump for the eve of Advent, A.D. 2010
Greek Orthodox Deacon -Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

revklak

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2010, 04:45:55 PM »
You know, I always thought it was just a matter of counting back four Sundays preceding Christmas (including Dec. 24) to find the first Sunday of Advent.  It was my 87 year old father, a Polish Catholic, who told me this proper way of determining the date a few weeks ago after he atttended a theology class I teach.  I had never heard this method of determining the start of Advent before.  But it is still interesting that both work 100% accurately, since if Nov 30 falls on Sunday through Wednesday,  there are only 3 Sundays after it until Christmas - even if Christmas is on a Sunday.  On a Thursday, you end up with a 4th Sunday Advent on the 24th. 

Rev. Cathi Braasch STS

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2010, 01:07:35 AM »
It's here at last ... A blessed Advent to you ... and thanks for the post that started this thread. Truly a gift.

Jeff-MN

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Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2010, 01:33:45 PM »
The fact that the first Sunday of Advent occurs on the Sunday closest to St Andrew's Day is just a coincidence.  The first Sunday of Advent is determined by counting four Sundays prior to the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord.  To say otherwise is silly.