Daily Meditations

Fifteenth Day of Christmas Advent: The Feast of Saint Andrew (November 30)

While the canon of the feast of the Nativity begins to be sung on the festival of the entrance of the Virgin Mary into the temple, the first prefeast hymns of Christmas are sung on the feast of “the all-praised and first-called apostle Andrew.”1

In the gospel according to Saint John, Philip calls his friend Nathanael to “come and see” Jesus, but it is Jesus Himself who invites Andrew to “come and see” where He dwells and to spend the day with Him, together with another disciple of John the Baptist, who is probably the evangelist himself.

Come and see! This is the abiding invitation of the Church in her liturgical services. Come with faith and you will be numbered with those to whom “it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 13: 11). You will be found with those to whom insight has been granted into “the mystery of Christ” which is “the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things” which is now made manifest “through the Church” even to the angels (Eph 3:4, 9-10). 2

Come and see! You will witness the mystery of Christ’s birth from the Virgin, His manifestation at the Jordan in His baptism by John, His victory over the devil in the desert, His proclamation of good news to the poor, His announcement of liberty to the oppressed, His declaration of the acceptable year of the Lord’s grace. You will witness His accomplishment of the signs of His messiahship: the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dumb talk. You will see the winds cease and the seas calmed. You will behold the table spread “in the wilderness” in the feeding of the multitudes (Ps78: 19). You will witness the casting out of demons. And, most glorious of all, you will see the dead being raised by the word of His power. You will know indeed that -“the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mt 12 :28), and” you will testify truly that “something greater than Jonah” “and “something greater than Solomon is here” (Mt 12 :41-42). You will see what “many prophets and righteous men longed to see . . . and did not see it, and to hear . . . and did not hear it” (Mt 13:17). And ultimately you will see the Son of God Himself being lifted upon the Cross in order to give His broken body as food for His people, and His shed blood as their drink, that their hunger and thirst for peace and joy and righteousness, and indeed for life itself, might be forever satisfied. You will “sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” which is brought to the world by the glorified Messiah (Mt 8: 11).

To go the way of the Winter Pascha is, according to Saint Gregory the Theologian, to “travel without fault through every stage and faculty of the life of Christ.” It is to enter into the mysteries of the Messiah, “all of which have but one completion: my perfection and return to the first condition of Adam.” It is to “see and be seen by the great God who in Trinity is worshipped and glorified, and whom we now set forth before you as clearly as the bonds of flesh permit, in Jesus Christ our Lord.”3

The feast of Saint Andrew, with the chanting of the first of the prefeast hymns of the Nativity, marks the beginning of this paschal journey in a special way:

When He who was proclaimed by the voice of John the Forerunner,

“The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,”

Came bringing life and salvation to all the earth

You, O holy Andrew, were the first to follow Him.

You were offered as the first-fruits of the human race.

You proclaimed to Peter your brother,

“We have found the Messiah!”

Pray that He may enlighten and save our souls.


Rejoice, O Isaiah, and receive the Word of God.

Prophesy to Mary the Maiden.

She is the Burning Bush unconsumed by the fire of divinity.

Adorn yourself, O Bethlehem.

Open your gates, O Eden.

Enter, O Magi, and see salvation swaddled in a crib.

Behold the star shining above the cave;

It announces the life-giving Lord who saves the human race.


Tell us, O Joseph, how you led the Virgin

Into the Bethlehem cave.

“After searching the scriptures and hearing the angel,” he says,

“I am certain that Mary will wondrously give birth to God

Whom the wise men from the East will worship,

Offering to Him their precious gifts.”

O Lord, incarnate for our sake, glory to You! 4

~Adapted from Thomas Hopko, The Winter Pascha: Readings for the Christmas-Epiphany Season

1 Feast of Saint Andrew, November 30. In Orthooox practice major feasts are announced by “prefeast” verses and hymns sung at services that come before the great feast. Generally speaking, nothing in Orthodox liturgical celebration comes unprepared and unannounced. And it is never the case that the faithful “pretend” that they do not know what will happen. For example, on Holy Friday it is clearly proclaimed in the worship of the crucified lord that He will rise from the dead. The Cross is contemplated and the dead Christ is adored in the light of the resurrection. The liturgy of the Church is never a “historical representation.” It is rather the mystical experience of each act of sacred history in the light of the whole, including the glorification of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

2 See also Rom 16:2; 1 Cor 2:7; Col 1:26.

3 Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 38, On the Theophany or Nativity of Christ, 16.

4 Vespers of the feast of Saint Andrew. In Orthodox liturgical hymns the Virgin Mary is often called the “Burning Bush).” For as the bush which Moses saw was burning, but was not consumed, so Mary held in her womb the Son and Word of God, but was not destroyed by the fire of His divinity. See Exodus 3.