Today is the feast of St. Andrew, chronicled in the gospel of Luke as one of “The Twelve” – those first named people to hear the call of Christ to follow him. When I read that text from Luke 4, I often wish for more. It’s rather difficult to think of fishermen, schooled in their trade and living what was probably a stable, familiar life, putting down their nets at that very short and rather cryptic directive (“Come, follow me!”) with a willingness to do whatever it took to respond. Wasn’t there more conversation? Didn’t they ask about where Jesus came from and where they were going? About what his “offer” meant? At least some of them had families. Were they being asked to abandon those loved ones? For what?
Today when I read the lines and had the same curiosity, I was flung back in spirit to the Mount of the Beatitudes, one of my favorite places visited on my trip to Israel in 2015. From that most beautiful, peaceful, holy hill I saw at a bit of a distance the Sea of Galilee, spread out like a welcoming blanket over the land below. There was even a boat with one or two tiny dots of what were probably fishermen occupying the small craft. How I wished to be one of those people, taken back in time to the moment when Jesus first appeared on the scene. Something stirred in me, akin perhaps to the feelings of those first responders, that made my heart say “YES” without thought of consequence or even of meaning. Holy places can have that effect sometimes. I find, however, that the response must be made on a daily basis – and sometimes even moment to moment. I suspect that Andrew and the others with him came to know that truth, but it seemed that the deal was sealed at that first encounter.
We all come to God in our own time, in our own way, with God’s own impetus or prompt. We may be born into a tradition, as I was, or have an experience that is so overwhelming as to leave us wanting more, but always – if we are to persevere – the fires have to be stoked on a regular basis.
We are here in New Hampshire with just such a purpose. It is well begun. The 18 of us, sitting in a circle last night, began a search together for a new certainty of that fire of love that will surely help us to pass on something of the spark that holds us on the path to a deepening sense of the presence of God in and among us.
The circle awaits. May God be praised by our willingness!