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2 OT B ~ "We Need Andrews" ~ Susan McGurgan, D.Min.



I grew up in Oklahoma

in the land of red clay,

tall thermometers,

and Oral Roberts --

a deeply religious corner of the world

where Friday night equaled Football,

Saturday spelled Barbeque,  

and Sunday held up a reserved sign for Jesus. 

 

When I was little,

it seemed that every street corner sprouted a church,

every Wednesday night

was Church Night,

and every summer brought a revival.   

 

It was a time and place where the question,

“Where do y’all go to Church?”  

did not leave space for the answer,

“No where.”

 

Just about every adult I knew

had a Christian Testimony—

a Witness story to tell,

and they told it,

whether you really wanted to hear it

or not.

 

Even the very young learned how to share

what God was doing in their lives,

and no matter your age or station in life,

if you couldn’t tell that story

in public

our loud

Well…

then you weren’t really

much of a Christian.

 

To tell you the truth,

a lot of the witnessing

annoyed or confused me,

or else it left me wondering

if it was more about the testifier,

than the One testified TO.

 

Since moving to Cincinnati,

the parishes I have attended

have held serious conversations   

about leaking roofs,

furnaces held together with bailing wire,

and the staggering upkeep of historic,

beloved,

money-pit worship spaces.

There are quiet, but intense,

discussions about our declining attendance.


People openly question

whether the diocesan re-structuring plan  

is more curse than cure,    

and families have quit speaking

over parish basketball tryouts

and the location of the Tabernacle.

 

But somehow,

the topic of personal testimony

rarely

ever

comes up.

 

And it’s not because people lack faith.

It’s not because they don’t care.

I think it’s that for many of us,

perhaps most of us,

faith is something private and contained.

Something we express in Church on Sunday morning

in a familiar setting

among familiar people--

not Tuesday afternoon at the Jiffy Lube.

 

And despite our communal approach to

sacraments,

liturgy

Scripture

parish life—

Despite our uncanny ability as Catholics

to get all up in people’s business

in the most astonishing

and sometimes intrusive ways,

we are often quite shy about 

overtly

sharing our faith with others.

 

I don’t know…

maybe it just feels too evangelical.

Or maybe,  

we simply believe it’s someone else’s job.  

Isn’t that why we send men to seminary?

Isn’t that why we ordain Deacons

and hire Lay Ministers?

 

Isn’t it best to leave something

as important as evangelization

to the professionals?

People who have studied doctrine?

Have some answers?

Know the Catechism inside out?

 

After all,

if someone asks you a question you can’t answer,

if someone challenges you,

knows more Bible verses than you do,

or catches you in an honest,

but flat-out mistake--

won’t you do more harm than good?

 

I mean, I don’t re-wire my own house

or excavate my own septic system, either.

We should leave

Evangelization,

Mission,

Witness,

Testimony

to the pros who know how to ground a live wire

and where to dig to avoid busting the gas line.   

 

 But, sometimes, though,

I think the problem stems from the fact

that we don’t really understand

what evangelization

and mission

and witness

and testimony

are all about.

 

I think we make it a lot more complicated

than we need to.

 

Take Andrew, for example.

 

Andrew was just a regular guy.

He was a fisherman.

A working man.

A man who repaired nets,

and plugged leaks in wooden boats.

I can picture Andrew,

bearded,

muscle-y,

squinting into the sun,  

laughing with abandon

at his brother’s epic fish tales.   

 

Andrew spent long, grueling hours in deep water

hauling in heavy catches,

and then spent

more long, grueling hours

gutting fish and scraping scales.

I think it might be safe to say that Andrew

knew more about

fins

than philosophy.

 

But, in a world where it’s sometimes

Hard

to talk about faith,

Andrew is a simple, direct, straightforward

refreshing example

of what it means to bear witness.

 

Andrew listened to someone he respected

point out the Lamb of God.

He followed that lamb, 

asked where he was staying,

and then went to his brother, Simon,

proclaimed, “We have found the Messiah!”

and invited Simon to meet him, too.  

 

That’s it.

Just come. 

See.  

For all its historic drama and importance

there is a real lack of drama in this scene,

both on the part of Jesus

initiating his first discipleship call,

and on the part of Andrew,

the first to be called.

 

“Come and See” Jesus said.

Not,

Do you know where you are spending eternity?

Not

Are you Saved?

Not

You’re doing God all wrong.

Not

Pray this specific prayer and let me into your heart.

Not

You know, all that stuff you are doing is

SIN.  

Just thought you should know you’re going to Hell…

 

Nope.

Just the invitation,

“Come and See”

which Andrew was free to accept or reject.

 

And Andrew,

convinced he had found the Messiah,

went to his brother with that same invitation,

Come.

I have found the Messiah.

 

Andrew didn’t immediately sign up for “witness lessons”

at the nearest seminary.

He didn’t ask Jesus for permission,

instructions,

or slick promotional scrolls to distribute.  

He didn’t wait until he had all the answers

or time to set up a committee to study the issue.   

He didn’t sit at the feet of Rabbis and Philosophers

to polish up his rhetorical technique.

He simply went to someone he loved and said,

“You have to meet this guy.” 

 

Andrew didn’t feel the need to convince Simon

with theological arguments about the Law, 

Scriptural proof texts,

or the fulfillment of ancient prophecies.

Heck,

Andrew didn’t understand yet, either!

He simply knew

that after his own encounter with Jesus,

he needed to bring Simon along, too.

And Andrew trusted Jesus to do the rest.

 

Andrew realized the burden of changing people

Transforming people

Saving people

Convincing people

Debating with people

“Winning” people for Christ

was not,

never was,

never would be

his burden.  

 

This is Andrew’s greatest legacy.

This is his gift to us,

direct from the shores of Lake Galilee,

courtesy of an ordinary guy,

with an ordinary job,

who just happened to be blessed

with extraordinary common sense. 

 

We need Andrew.

Actually, we need a lot of Andrews.

We need Young Andrews,

Old Andrews,

Carpool Mom Andrews,

Entrepreneurial Andrews.

Artist, Farmer, Student Andrews.

We need Quiet Andrews, Rowdy Andrews,

and Andrews who know how to fish

and when to cut bait.  

We need Andrews serving on Parish Council

and Andrews working Tuesday afternoon

at the Jiffy Lube.

 

Don’t get me wrong…

we also need people

who can craft an eloquent Christian Testimony—

people who have a witness story to tell

and who are willing to tell it,

whether anyone is really listening, or not. 

 

We need people who can share

what God is doing in their lives,

and who can tell that story                                             

in public

out loud

with clarity, and love, and joy. 

 

We need people to enter seminary.  

People to learn the fine points of doctrine.

People to teach and preach and unpack Scripture.

We need men and women trained

to catechize, form, and lead.

 

But I am more and more convinced

that above all, 

we need Andrews.

We need men and women

who have heard the invitation,

“Come and See”

and who then invite others to come

and meet that same Jesus

who once met them,

walking along the shore

of whatever Galilee

lies in your own corner of the world. 

 

I have met the Messiah.

Will you come meet him too?"




Photo: Marcelino James from Pixabay

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