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“Patron of Connectors” - The Feast of St. Andrew - November 21, 2021

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

I’ve hit a point in my life where I just don’t want to keep up with new stuff.

You know what I mean?

Like, new music…no clue what’s new right now – even from bands and musicians I enjoy. If they’re doing new stuff, I don’t know about it. I am perfectly happy and content collecting my old-school jazz, blues, and rock on vinyl.

Movies? I could not begin to tell you what’s in the theatres right now. I’m sure there’s some good films out there – I just don’t keep up with it. I think one of the last films Ericka and I went to see in a theatre was Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant; and we left asking, “Did we just pay $125 to watch a dude crawl through the snow for two hours?”

Fashion…here’s my take on new fashion. Fashion is a train. If you want to look good, keep riding that train, but you always got to make the train and it’s always going to cost you money. That’s not bad. I have friends that are very fashionable, and they look great. You can keep riding that fashion train….or….you can just….not. You can just get off. Because there’s all these little fashion towns along the train tracks and you can say this is my stop. Many years ago I stopped in a quaint little fashion village called the late 90’s and I’ve been very happy. The sales tax is cheap and Chris Farley is the mayor. I used to look at guys when I was growing up and ask myself, “Why is that guy dressed like it’s 1975?” Now I know! Because that’s when he chose to get off the train. Good for him! Thankfully, I am married to someone who will sometimes say to me, “You know, you at least need to look like you care a little.” And so, she’ll hop on the train and go to a little fashion town further up the road and bring me back something – which is nice of her to do.

That’s just where I am in life.

But thankfully…I also have people in my life – and let’s call them something – let’s call these people…connectors. I think you know the kind of person I’m talking about, maybe you have people like this in your life too. I have people who are connectors in my life who say things like, “Hey Jared, I was listening to this new album and I’d think you’d appreciate it.” Or, they’ll call me and ask, “Have you seen this movie or this new series…You should give it a watch I’d think you’d find it meaningful.” With others it might be a new book or a new podcast….anything. And then there are those that help me connect with other people. Which is such a wonderful thing, because truth be told, I’m an introvert and it’s easy for me to get in my little inner world and camp out there.

I need and love having connectors in my life.

We get to look at a connector at work in the Gospel of John this morning.

Andrew and Philip, evidently standing in ear shot of John the Baptizer, hear him say of Jesus, “Look, there is the lamb of God.” Well! That’s all they needed to hear and pretty soon they were up and following behind Jesus who finally turns around asks, “What are you looking for?”

Which is such a great question. So good, maybe we ought to open every Sunday morning with that question…just “What are you looking for?” and then we all sit down and think on it a while. “What are you looking for?”

“Rabbi (which means teacher)” they say, “where are you staying?” So Jesus takes them back to his place. Now, let your imagination play a bit here. Jesus is a single, twenty-something, young man with a low paying gig. Now, I’ve seen my fair share of twenty-something bachelor pads, and not once did I walk in and say, “This place is a holy place.” No! Andrew and Philip probably walked in and saw clothes on the floor, cheap furniture, a stack of empty pizza boxes on the kitchen counter, a big stain on the carpet…I think it’s that kinda place. But…they sit down with Jesus and over the course of the day, maybe splitting a couple bottles of wine poured into some styrofoam cups, they begin to hear and see something in Jesus. Now watch what Andrew does….He goes to get his big brother, Simon.

“Hey Simon, I want you to meet someone. Yeah…yeah…I know we got a lot of fish to clean. But just come and meet him. I think you’ll be glad you did.” And the Gospel says, “He brought Simon to Jesus.” (repeat) Now, in this part of the world – in the Bible belt. When you bring someone to Jesus it means this whole big thing, right. It means you’re going to hit him with some scriptures, maybe walk ‘em down the Roman road, do a little apologetics dog and pony dance, mix in a little heaven with a lot of hell, say a prayer….and there ya go! You brought someone to the Jesus. But, is any of that going on here?

Andrew brings his brother to Jesus and he gets out of the way. Because now, it’s about Simon and Jesus and their relationship. And Jesus calls Peter something, Cephas, which in Aramaic means stone or rock and in the Greek it’s translated Petros (or Peter). Now, I know the Church for two millennia has made a big deal of this rock thing, Peter being the rock and on that rock the Church will be built – we’ve seen the verse. But I kinda like to think Cephas is a nick name a little brother might give a big brother if that big brother often was hard-headed, and blunt, and brash – if that big brother was, you know, like Peter.

“Hey Jesus, when I introduce you to Simon call him Cephas, it’ll be hilarious.”

And what if for two thousand years the Church believed it had to be built on this tough, impenetrable thing when all along it was built on friends, sharing a joke, and some bread and wine together. Which is what we do in here every Sunday. We get together, share a joke – the joke is told a little different each week – sometimes there’s a lost sheep, sometimes there’s a lost son, sometimes there’s a person beaten to a pulp on the side of the road, sometimes there’s a man in a tomb – but the punch line is always the same, that is death doesn’t get the last laugh, and then we have some bread and wine together.

I don’t know…maybe we don’t have to make it so complicated...maybe we don’t have to be so tough all the time. Maybe we don’t have to be so in the way.

This isn’t the only place Andrew is a connector in the gospel of John. A little later Jesus and the disciples are tired after a long day and there’s five thousand hungry people standing around and no one knows how they’re going to eat. Until Andrew brings a kid to Jesus, yes a kid – skinny, scraped-knees, messy hair, peanut butter and jelly on his face. Just a kid with five loaves and two fishes and everyone got fed that day and had a crash course in the Economy of God 101. How did Andrew know? How did he know just to bring this child to Jesus and get out of the way?

Closer toward the end of John’s gospel it happens again. Andrew the connector. A group of traveling Greeks show up in Jerusalem during Passover – wearing their fanny packs and togas – looking like a Frat house on a Saturday night. They tell Philip, “We want to meet Jesus.” Why? It doesn’t say, one can assume I think, being Greek they were hungry for knowledge, maybe even for a new philosophy. Well, who does Philip take them to?

Andrew…who then brings them to Jesus. Now, they don’t get the sit-down, intimate interview they wanted, nor do they get just another new philosophy to banter about in hopes of tickling Athena’s ear. No! They get to hear Jesus teach and in his teaching the voice of God falls upon the crowd and these Greeks, these spiritual tourists, are part of this transformative moment. How? Because Andrew knew…he somehow knew….all he had to do was bring them to Jesus and get out of the way.

I’m starting to think Andrew doesn’t just need to be the patron of Scotland, or fisherman, or singers, or (did you know this one) those who suffer from whooping cough – there ya go. I’m starting to think Andrew needs to be the patron saint of the connectors – the people in our lives who connect us to the deeper realities, and to deeper relationships, and in doing so connect us to God. And I’m lucky enough to be your priest and to see so many of you do that connecting all the time. You invite, you bring, you meet for coffee, or a beer, you sit around tables together, and in circles over the scriptures, you dance with one another, laugh and weep together, you buy books for kids, clothes for refugees, food for the homeless - you are all the time…connecting. Isn’t wonderful, then, that our church is named for that Patron of Connectors – patron of all you wild, wise people who somehow know, you just know, how to bring people to Jesus and get out of the way. Amen.

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