Kicking secularism into touch
"The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ)." John 1. 41
With Advent Sunday behind us, St Andrews Day yesterday and today being the 1st of December, we are well into the season of expectation and anticipation. Is Advent totally about looking forward, or might we find space for reflection as well? Traditionally, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas have focussed on preparing to celebrate Jesus' birth and remembering his promise to come again, this time in glory to judge the world and usher in the New Creation. And right at the beginning of this season is the day designated St Andrews Day, 30 November, when we acknowledge Andrew, the first disciple, whose passion was for bringing people to Jesus.
Scotland proudly flies the saltire as our national flag. The saltire (white cross on blue background) commemorates the martyrdom of St Andrew on an X-shaped cross. In adopting his cross as our national flag and himself as our patron saint what was Scotland aspiring to then and what does it require of us now? Secularism, which many consider to be a flattering term signifying tolerance, is only a step away from atheism - ignoring rather than denying God. But the consequence is the same and it betrays a lack of integrity at the heart of our national identity: denial of our roots and our founding values.
If Scotland wishes to retain St Andrew as our patron and his cross as our national symbol, is it not time to remember what these mean and, more positively, to challenge ourselves with how Scotland as a whole might live up to the example of the disciple with a passion for bringing people to Jesus? To those who argue that St Columba presents as a more fitting patron saint for those self-identifying as fellow Celts, similar could be said. Overcoming his partisan instincts, Columba became a champion of evangelism, facing down druids and monsters to bring the faith to all of Scotland. Now there's a brace of role models worth emulating in their commitment: to Christ, his mission and their people!