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Theme for the Month: "Come and See" (John 1:39)

 

The story of the origins of early Christianity is a story of peoples and communities whose lives are illustrated to illuminate the words and works of our Lord Jesus Christ. We prepare to celebrate a tradition that takes us back to the first Apostle called by our Lord, Andrew. Our commemoration of St. Andrew's Day is in many ways helping us to relive the rich legacy and history that we inherit and celebrate.

One of the legacies that is striking is that, Andrew is a pioneer in sharing the Good News, but does not attract much attention, which is obvious from the fact that his name is mentioned only twelve times - four of them in lists of apostles (Mark 3:18; Matt 10:2; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13).

Apostle Andrew comes across as sincere, unassuming and focused, values that we celebrate as a community of faith. We do not like any attention on individual or individuals, and want to be focused on the Mission entrusted to us. Andrew's few but remarkable actions speak loud messages about Discipleship. In John 1:35-42, we find an early encounter of Andrew and his brother Simon Peter, with Jesus. Jesus begins by asking, "What are you looking for?" and they replied, "Teacher, where are you staying?" and Jesus responded by saying, "Come and see" (v.39).The invitation "Come and see" to Andrew and Peter, is an invitation to meet Jesus as he is and not to be hypothetical or hypocritical about it. It is an invitation to leave our comfort-zones and the courage to rethink about our ideas, worlds and contexts. It is an invitation to "Radical Discipleship." By Radical Discipleship, I mean, meeting Jesus is a priority, and the curiosity to continually meet Jesus at the heart of whatever we are doing. The invitation of Jesus is radical because it is honest, transparent and unconditional; it is an invitation to experience love in humility and hospitality. It is interesting that just in the next verse, Andrew is stated as 'Simon Peter's brother." But it does not matter to Andrew, because Radical Discipleship means the willingness to share the joy of discovering with the other, and he says, "We have found the Messiah."

It is my deep desire, that all that we do at Andrew's resonate values of Radical Discipleship.

We are deeply grateful for gestures and words of encouragement, prayer, and support, and we value it.

Happy to share a brief overview of our ongoing Activities and Programs:

1. Worship Services

We are glad that our Worship Services in English and Kannada are 'crossing boundaries,' in reaching people from different contexts. The attendance for our physical Services is steadily increasing, and glad that many are coming out after many months. We have been able to celebrate Special Sundays like Youth Sunday, Reformation Sunday, and World Sunday School Day, in both the English and Kannada Services. My thoughts are with the Creative Team, who put in several hours of work to enable us to watch the Services live on our Screens. Our process of digitization within the church, has slowly given away to printed Pew Slips and we as a Team, are happy with this decision. We hope to make enhanced facilities in the coming days.

2. Annual Harvest and Thanksgiving: Alternative Celebration

God helps us to draw even when the situation around us is changing; our Annual Harvest and Thanksgiving is certainly an example. We have once again demonstrated that our responses are driven by faith and not by the circumstances around us. We did miss our fellowship, the stalls, eats and many more. But we offered our thanksgiving to God by worshipping God, by sharing creative ideas about thanksgiving, by representative programs shared virtually, and by offerings which will support the Infrastructure and Digital up-gradation of our church. We did decorate the church with fruits and flowers. But the best part was, we shared all these and the grains and the eats we received, with the children and elderly people in need. It may be a good idea to continue to share a portion of gifts received with the poor and the needy, even in ordinary times beginning next year.

All through this, was the thinking of Paul's Letter to the Corinthian community, where he states, "You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us" (2 Corinthians 9:11). We are deeply grateful to all of you for helping us, and especially me, to rethink on the meaning of Thanksgiving.

Here below are the things received and the Homes that have received it:

Altar Fruits, Vegetables & Tender Coconuts (13 Nos. each) Refugee Home for Destitute Children
Ashley Home for the Aged
Maggi (10 Packets) Refugee Home for Destitute Children
Ready to eat Poha (90 Packets)
Clothes
Rice (25 Kgs)
Pickle Bottles 6 Nos.
Rice (25 Kgs) Bethany Ashrama, Channapatna
Channa Dal (2.5 Kgs)
Dal (2.5 Kgs)
Rajma (2.5 Kgs)
Peas (2.5 Kgs)
Pickle Bottles 2 Nos.
Rice (30 Kgs) Harshananda Memorial Foundation
Dal (2.5 Kgs)
Sugar (2.5 Kgs)
Salt (2 Kgs)
Oil (2 Litres)
Rice (30 Kgs) Blessing Home
Dal (2.5 Kgs)
Sugar (2.5 Kgs)
Salt (2 Kgs)
Oil (2 Litres)

3. St. Andrew's School

Our focus to drive Systematic Program among the Teaching Staff is yielding results. Our Training Workshop in association with Lions International is a new initiative, and hope many more partnerships in learning can be facilitated in the future. We thank two of the staff members who completed their active service in the School. Mrs. Margaret Sujaya completed 29 years of service and has opted for voluntary retirement with about 2 years of service remaining. Mrs. Swarnamala retired after completing 37 years of service. We thank both of them for their valuable service and pray for God's blessings in their lives.


4. Staff Matters

The process of facilitating Staff Roles is progressing well.

  1. Staff Prayer: The staff members meet regularly for devotion and prayer every Monday and Friday morning. A Systematic meditation on the Parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke is being studied. All the staff members participate, and it is a blessing to see that the Parables of our Lord have so many practical ideas and suggestions for us with different responsibilities.

  2. Office Meetings: Office Meetings are intended to systematically review the assigned roles, the implementation and execution of decisions taken, and the opportunity to share common concerns. Office Meetings happen every first and third Friday of the Month with the Secretary and Treasurer joining in. The results are evident in a few sittings and it is a very positive way forward, and happy that the Staff members have understood the change and are cooperating in this regard.

5. St. Andrew's Day

We look forward each year to the celebration of St. Andrew's Day, commemorating and remembering our Patron Saint, St. Andrew. We will certainly miss the rare opportunity of fellowshipping together, but we cannot miss the opportunity to recommit ourselves to the ministry with all its challenges. The Pastorate Committee has decided to dedicate/bless 5 initiatives:

  1. Altar Wood Panel: Reinstalling the Wood Paneling in the Altar which was already there, helping us to remember our past.
  2. Visitor's Brochure: Releasing the Visitor's Brochure, which carries the history and ministry of our church at a glance.
  3. Installing and upgrading a new Camera and Digital System which will enhance our virtual transmission. This is made possible due to your sacrificial contributions during the Thanksgiving Service this year.
  4. St. Andrew's Church Centre for Learning:An initiative of the Education and Professional Network Committee (EPNC) to help church members especially professionals and students improve their learning and skills in the areas of Languages, Soft Skills, Entrance and Competitive Exams and Music.
  5. Career Hub:An initiative of (EPNC) to assist professionals of our church to grow in their careers, and address career challenges through counseling, placements and other related activities.

Some more thoughts on our Patron Saint, before I conclude the letter:

Apostle Andrew also became popular in the West. In 1204, Crusaders stole Andrew's relics from Constantinople and took them to Amalfi, Italy. According to ancient Celtic tradition, St. Regulus (4th century) took the apostle's arm to St. Andrews, Scotland, and thus Andrew became known as the Patron Saint of Scotland. There is a scholarly consensus about the tradition that Andrew died at Patrae in Achaia. Astory developed that he was martyred on an X-shaped cross (a "decussate" or "saltire" cross), which has become known as St. Andrew's cross. St. Andrew's cross has been and is an iconic representation of our church. On the Calendar of Saints of the Roman and Greek churches, Andrew's date is set as November 30, which is Andrew's Feast Day. It is legendary that Andrew visited many places like Phrygia, Ephesus, Chalcedon, and even went up to Kiev in Russia. No wonder his reputation is secure in the East and remains the Patron of the Russian Orthodox Church, a rare honour, and ecumenical. Let us continue to celebrate this legacy.

We will be celebrating St. Andrew's Day on Sunday the 29 of this month, at a Joint Communion Worship Service beginning at 9 am.

May God bless you

Your Presbyter
Rev. Dr. Dexter S. Maben
 
 
   
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St. Andrews Church
No.27, Cubbon Road, Bangalore-560001

Phone: +91-80-25591 874
Email: andrewschurchblore@gmail.com