Wednesday, November 29, 2006

You've Got a Friend in Andrew

St. Andrew the Apostle, whose feast is celebrated by both East and West today, is the original icon of what evangelicals sometimes call "friendship evangelism." Andrew brought his brother Peter to Christ (John 1:41).
The crude Southern version of "friendship evangelism" I grew up with is that you get to know somebody and then... wham... you invite them to your church so that they can "hear the Gospel." The real-life version runs more like this. Others who get to know you will be attracted to Christ through your winsome life and will begin to get closer to God by asking you questions and beginning to discover that this "God-thing" isn't so bad after all.
Not a bad model really- not too heirarchical, and certainly reflective of how many people actually do come to the Faith. I know that I am in the Church today at least partially because of friends who took the time to share with me their values and their love. It made the Gospel come alive for me.
St. John Chrysostom, speaking about Andrew bringing Peter to Christ, declared the positive good of true friendship: "to support one another in the things of the spirit is the true sign of good will between brothers, of loving kinship and sincere affection."
I pondered these words again as I read today about Benedict XVI's visit with Bartholomew I, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople. The joint declaration they made after meeting together certainly seems full of such good will.

This fraternal encounter which brings us together, Pope Benedict XVI of
Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, is God’s work, and in a certain sense his gift.

We give thanks to the Author of all that is good, who allows us once again, in prayer and in dialogue, to express the joy we feel as
brothers and to renew our commitment to move towards full communion.

This commitment comes from the Lord’s will and from our responsibility as Pastors in the Church of Christ. May our meeting be a sign and an
encouragement for all of us to share the same sentiments and the same attitudes of fraternity,
cooperation and communion in charity and truth.

The Holy Spirit will help us to prepare the great day of the re-establishment of full unity, whenever and however God wills it. Then we
shall truly be able to rejoice and be glad.

Perhaps this model of friendship is what will bring us together, restoring the unity between these two ancient and venerable branches of Christendom.
Lord,
you called Andrew the apostle
to preach the Gospel and guide your Church in
faith.

May he always be our friend in your
presence

to help us with his prayers.



2 comments:

Antony said...

Amen. Once again, you've hit the nail on the head.

Phil B. said...

Thanks, A. A blessed Advent to you.