A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The British Open Is Reminding Us of Andrew, the Disciple

Isn't it great that by watching the British Open golf tournament this weekend, we can also grow in our faith?

This past Season of Lent, I preached a series of sermons on "The Crosses of Jesus." One of the crosses we focused on was St. Andrew's cross which is a cross Scotland, the host of this year's British Open uses as their national flag. Below is a portion of that sermon telling us about Andrew and his connection with Scotland and the golf tournament this weekend.

Here’s the brief story about Andrew. His name appears only fourteen times in the New Testament with only one of those references being outside of the four Gospels and that is in the Book of Acts. And of those fourteen references where Andrew’s name appears, three of them are simply where he’s included in a listing with the other twelve disciples.

But whenever Andrew’s name appears outside of those lists, there’s a common thread – he’s always bringing people to meet Jesus. If you remember, it’s Andrew who brought his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus for the first time.

And it’s Andrew who brings a little boy to Jesus who happens to have five loaves and two fish. And with those five loaves and two fish, Jesus miraculously fed five thousand people with that little bit of food.

It’s Andrew, who with the help of the disciple, Phillip, tells Jesus about some people outside of the Jewish faith who wanted to meet Jesus.

So every time Andrew’s name is mentioned, he is about bringing people to Jesus and that’s why he is primarily known for evangelism. But the particular type of cross that bears his name is not primarily about evangelism, but about his humility.

You will notice that the St. Andrew’s cross is really an “X” shape which is very different from any of the other crosses. Church tradition tells us that following the time of the New Testament period, Andrew was crucified for his faith. And because of his tremendous humility he chose not to be crucified in the same way as Jesus. Instead, he was crucified upside down and that’s why we have this particular shaped cross.

Incidentally, Andrew’s brother, Simon Peter, also chose to be crucified in a similar way, but the shape of St. Peter’s cross is an upside down Latin cross. Both the cross of St. Peter and the cross of St. Andrew are symbols of their example of humility as followers of Jesus Christ.

And if you’re into history, you might be interested in this. Several centuries after Andrew died for his faith, tradition tells us that his relics were brought to Scotland by a missionary which is why St. Andrew is known as the Patron Saint of Scotland.

Even today people continue to make pilgrimages to this location in Scotland that is named after this saint. In fact, many pilgrims will be visiting there this July. These religious pilgrims are also known as golfers. And they will be at St. Andrew’s for this year’s British Open. If you watch the British Open this summer, I want you to think back to this message on St. Andrew’s Cross and how Andrew was known for his humility. Come to think of it, golf is a great way to keep a person humble.

1 comment:

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