One of the activities that some people are missing because of COVID-19 is trivia night at a local bar or restaurant.
“I have a Biblical trivia question for you. Name the original 12 disciples,” said the Rev. Robert Baggott. He gave the homily for the 9:15 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Aug. 12, morning devotional service on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform. His homily title was “Andrew: A Story of Confident Commitment.” The scripture text was John 1:35-41 (NRSV) —
“The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed).”
Baggott said, “Most people can name four or five of the disciples — Peter, James, John, Matthew, Thomas, Judas. But what about the other six? One of those is Andrew. Not much is mentioned about him, but his is an instructive story.”
Andrew was the brother of Peter and was a fisherman who lived in Bethsaida at the place where the Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee. It was a good fishing ground, and the Romans realized that the lucrative fishing trade could be heavily taxed. The fishermen struggled to make a living.
“This is why Andrew was out in the Judean desert following John the Baptist. He had enough of Rome and was looking for bigger fish,” Baggott said.
Jesus walked by John the Baptist and his disciples and John called Jesus the “Lamb of God.” Andrew followed Jesus, who turned around and asked him, “What are you seeking?” Andrew replied, “I want to know where you are staying.”
Baggott continued, “This did not mean are you staying at the Hampton Inn or the Springhill Suites. Andrew wanted to know where Jesus’ life was anchored, where his heart was staying.”
Jesus gave Andrew an open invitation come and see. “Come and see spiritually, wholly, deeply into life,” Baggott said. “Jesus was inviting Andrew to a heart- and soul-opening experience.”
In John’s gospel, Andrew is the first disciple Jesus called. Peter and John are better known, Baggott said, but Andrew “went and saw and told them about the teacher. He was the doer among the disciples, the runner, the connector, the voice of the disciples.”
Andrew only appeared three times in John’s gospel. In the first chapter he follows John the Baptist until he meets Jesus and goes to tell Peter he has seen the Messiah. Later in the gospel, when the Greeks inquire about who Jesus is, the other disciples bring them to Andrew for an answer. At the feeding of the 5,000, it is Andrew who tells Jesus there is a boy with five barley loaves and two fish.
“Everywhere you look, there are people who are sure, steady witnesses to Christ. For Andrew to follow Christ was to get up, do his best, and let God do the rest,” Baggott said.
One such disciple was Steven McDonald, a New York City police officer shot and paralyzed in stopping a robbery. His wife was three months pregnant at the time.
After their son was born, McDonald heard what he said was Christ’s voice telling him to come and see what he was looking for.
“Christ worked a miracle in McDonald,” Baggott said. “McDonald forgave the young man who shot him and wished him a peaceful life. McDonald became a voice for peace and reconciliation.”
McDonald met Pope John Paul II, George W. Bush and Mother Teresa. He traveled on peace missions to Northern Ireland, Bosnia and the Middle East. He said, “God asked me to be a witness to God’s work in the world, and that is my calling.”
He died in 2017 after living 31 years as a missionary for peace and reconciliation.
Baggott said, “McDonald was an Andrew. He got up, did his best and let God do the rest.”
It is a difficult world and people of faith do not always get the recognition they deserve, Baggott told the virtual congregation. People sometimes feel they have no power to alter the world. Those who are ready to do God’s business, who are willing to listen to the voice that asks “What are you looking for? Come and see,” who just get up and do their best, will see God do the rest.
Baggott quoted theologian Edward Everett Hale, who said, “I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. And because I can’t do everything, I will not refuse to do the thing I can do.”
In conclusion, Baggott asked, “That was Andrew, that was Steven McDonald. Can that be said of you?”
The Rev. Natalie Hanson, a United Methodist minister and co-host of the United Methodist House, presided from the Hall of Christ. Joshua Stafford, interim organist for Chautauqua Institution, played the Tallman Tracker Organ. Meredith Smietana, a student in the Chautauqua School of Music Voice Program, served as vocal soloist. The organ prelude, performed by Stafford, was an improvisation. Smietana sang the hymn, “Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult.” The anthem was “Sorrow Song,” by Samuel Tayor Coleridge. Stafford played “Sketch No, 2 for Pedal Piano,” by Robert Shumann, for the postlude. This program is made possible by Willow and Gary Brost and the Susan and John Turben Foundation.