A sermon with a very personal meaning.To all of you, with whom we cannot gather because of this virus, in all parts of the world, the blessing of Christ be upon you.
Sonja and I send our love to you.
SERMON FOR ST ANDREW THE APOSTLE
Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild restless see…as of old Saint Andrew heard it….’Follow me….’
This old hymn, so well-remembered from Sunday School, reminds us of Saint Andrew, first of the Apostles, whose feast day occurs tomorrow. So it seems worthwhile to focus upon him, on the final Sunday of Advent before all our thoughts turn to Christmas.
What a man he was, and what a part he played in the Gospel, at the very beginning of Jesus ministry. Andrew and Peter were of course those young fishermen present when Jesus worked a miracle, calming the sea, and they responded immediately and heartily to his call, ”Come, follow me.?
Unlike them, we know that they were meeting the Son of God; but they also were witnesses of a miracle which left them in no doubt that this was indeed the Messiah whom they had expected all their lives. Peter would become the chief of the Apostles, but not until he had gone through a time as tempestuous as the waters that day on the Sea of Galilee. Whereas Andrew began at once his utter and selfless devotion to the cause of Christ. Only their brother John would outshine these two noble followers of the Lord in their apostolate, having been the most loving disciple, who stayed by the cross of Jesus, and who wrote the definitive Gospel in its inspiring presentation of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord and Saviour.
This was at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and,, we are told, Andrew would preach in many parts of southern Europe, going as far north as Ukraine, becoming then the patron saint of that country, now within the Soviet Union.
Andrew brought others to Jesus, he demonstrated his faith, and he remained a very humble man in his faith and ministry. But nothing can take from him his place as the first to recognise and accept Jesus Christ.
You and I enjoy the gift of the Gospel, recording the greatest story ever told, making us aware of the wonderful acts of Christ, and the remarkable spread of his message, after his sacrificial death and all that followed it, leading to the establishment of the Church—the greatest and most wide-spread community which has ever existed on earth.
And yet we must all make our act of faith in the Creed, that though we are not eyewitnesses as Andrew and the other disciples, that we have the willingness and determination to follow Christ.
For some that seems to be an easy choice, a smooth transition from infant baptism to confirmation and a lifelong commitment to Christ and his Church. For others it can be a struggle within the soul to accept both the Gospel account, but also the teachings of our Lord as the basis for living.
Whether you are in the first or second category, still all of us must declare our faith over and over by the way we respond in every aspect of our daily lives. The basic decision was made in our Baptism, probably by our parents and godparents rather than ourselves, we who were infants. Then in Confirmation we had the chance to declare this faith for ourselves. But still our faith is challenged throughout our lifetime by what happens throughout our days on earth.
And today, living as we do in a civilisation largely built upon a Christian foundation, we are only too aware how that faith is under challenge, and how many people have given up on God, or are infected by the worldly atmosphere and post-Christian ways of thinking and acting. So we are always in mortal danger from a pandemic much worse than that of the corona bug. Because the world continues its relentless effort to kill Christ on a cross of selfishness and rejection.
So in every life, and at so many times throughout our Christian walk, we have to respond to those three vital words, “Come, follow me,”and to accept the Lord’s assignment—that on this walk, in every way that we can, we should become ‘fishers of men.’ Not just to seek for unbelievers to influence and bring to Christ, but to encourage their participation in the worship of the Church and fellowship of followers. And with it all, we are to be the representatives of our Lord, so that any who know us will see some evidence that we are indeed followers of Christ.
In my own life this call, expressed with such moving simplicity in this wonderful old hymn, had a great influence. Because this call, when my family had moved to town, so that at age six I could begin first grade, came to me on the day when Sunday school’s fall term began. I heard it and made my decision to become a priest. So it has had a lifelong influence on my life.
What influence will it have upon you?
As we come to the Feast Day of Saint Andrew the Apostle let us all recommit ourselves to be the faithful followers of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And whenever we grow weak, let us think of those young fishermen, especially Andrew, and how there beside the Sea of Galilee they pledged themselves to the One who alone can save us all. May we then gird ourselves again for the ongoing struggle and not lose sight of our goal, eternity with our Saviour.
In our joys and in our sorrows,
In our days and hours of ease,
Still he calls, in cares and pleasures,
“Christian, love me more than these.’
O Master, grant to me the courage of my convictions, and the strength to show forth my faith in love of Thee and of all around me, so that indeed every day I may answer thy call with a full heart in true devotion; to the honour and glory of thy Name. Amen.
Fr Stan is the spiritual mentor of Mr Berkeley Stewart, who is a member of the congregation at All Saints.
With his permission, Berkeley has been forwarding us Fr Stan’s sermons. They are published here, as well as a brief biography of this remarkable priest:
The Rev. Canon Stanley R. Sinclair
The Rev. Canon Stanley R. Sinclair of Church of Our Saviour, Victoria, was born in 1931 in Ross, California, across the north bay from San Francisco. In the coming years his family lived in the Sierra Mountains and later in the Napa Valley. At an early age he felt called to the ministry and after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1956 he fulfilled his vow and entered the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, also in Berkeley, under the authority of the Bishop of San Joaquin (the central valley diocese of the Episcopal Church in California).
In December of 1953 he married Sonja Swinnerton von Savoye in the historic church of St James’, Sonora, which was “family church” to both the Sinclairs and the von Savoyes. During these years he was employed at the University Library and he graduated as Master of Divinity Cum Laude in 1956. He was ordained Deacon in the family’s parish church in Sonora, CA, and later priest as Curate in St John the Evangelist, Stockton, California.
In the Stockton years Sonja and Father Stan became the adoptive parents of baby Erik Alexander von Savoye Sinclair, and of Grace Amy and Sarah Mary-Elizabeth, the two girls who had come to them as foster children—all within one year!
The following decades took the Sinclairs to various parish assignments, which included new fledgling congregations, fading parishes in need of a “lift,” from less than a hundred faithful up to 1300 in one parish! It involved building churches, starting two parochial schools, and working with many wonderful people, both clergy and laity; and finally moving all the way to Canada. After 15 years in Victoria and Calgary, since 1991, Father Stan has served as rector successively of two churches in Victoria. Although now officially retired, he is still serving as best he can at the age of 89.
Although now unable to travel, both for reasons of the pandemic and old age, the Sinclairs have previously enjoyed spending a good deal of time both in their ancestral homeland of Scotland and seeing many parts of the United States, Canada, and on the continent of Europe.
It has been a full life, with many sorrows but also many joys.