A new church year begins on the Sunday closest to November 30, which is the Feast of Saint Andrew. We sometimes do not celebrate Saint Andrew on November 30 itself, when that date falls on a Sunday, as it does in 2014, in which November 30 is the First Sunday of Advent and we celebrate Saint Andrew on Monday, December 1 instead.
It is interesting that it is Saint Andrew that corresponds to the start of a new church year. Why Andrew?
Perhaps it is because, according to Saint John, Andrew was one of two disciples who followed Jesus after John the Baptist pointed Jesus out by saying, "Behold the Lamb of God." Andrew went and told his brother and brought him to Jesus. This makes Andrew among the first to recongnize that the man named Jesus was not only the Messiah, but, quite shockingly, a Messiah who would be sacrificed for his people.
Perhaps it is because, according to Saint Matthew, Andrew and his brother Peter, both fisherman, were the first to become disciples of Jesus, when he called them to make them "fishers of men." This makes them the first disciples, as well as the first evangelists.
Perhaps it is because, according to Saint John, Andrew was the one who brought the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus for the feelding of the multitude. This act not only marks Andrew as a faithful servant, but also, along with his recognition of Jesus as the Lamb of God, gives Andrew a central role in the development of what would become the Eucharist.
Andrew is very much at the beginning of discipleship and evangelism. And so as we celebrate his feast day, we also celebrate the beginning of a new church year.
Almighty God, who didst give such grace to thine apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of thy Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give unto us, who are called by thy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Delivered over some two decades while he was Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford (as well as Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology), these selected sermons by Oliver O’Donovan are occasions where the theologian applied himself to the pastoral homiletic discipline. This course will be a guided reading of selections from The Word in Small Boats, with a particular focus on fundamental matters of Christian faith. Newcomers to Christianity should find help here in coming to a biblical mind and heart, while old hands should themselves be challenged to see basic truths in profounder depths.
For the first half of each class, Father Austin will summarize some key points of a few sermons; the second half will allow for questions and discussion.
O’Donovan offers us beauty and clarity of expression, apt illustrations, and careful attention to the Bible passage at hand. His zeal for the gospel and his love of Scripture shine throughout.
‚ÄîThe Rt. Rev’d Thomas E. Breidenthal
bishop of Southern Ohio