How Beautiful Upon the Mountain by Cheryl TenWolde

Golds, reds, yellows, purples, browns, and oranges – the colors of fall leaves, pumpkins, apples, and other produce are beautiful as we look around our communities this fall. Our seasons are undergoing a time of transition. The glorious colors of autumn upon our hills, mountains, and valleys will soon give way to the more muted tones of winter to come. A glance at our liturgical calendar also shows a colorful transitioning of church seasons – white, purple, green, and red are all represented on November’s church calendar. We start out on November 1 by remembering all the Saints who have died for their faith. This annual festival began in 609, when it was realized that the names of all the Saints to be remembered would not fit on a calendar! On November 2, All Faithful Departed are commemorated: these are the saints with a small “s”, as Fr. Chuck was fond of telling us. The Sunday following these days can be celebrated as All Saints Sunday. We especially remember Fr. Chuck as we pray together with each other and all the company of heaven the preface for All Saints, which declares, “For in the multitude of your saints, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses, that we might rejoice in their fellowship, and run with endurance the race that is set before us, and, together with them, receive the crown of glory that never fades away.”

Soon after celebrating Thanksgiving, we will be transitioning from Christ the King Sunday into the Advent season. This always starts on the Sunday before the feast day for one of the named Saints on the liturgical calendar, St. Andrew. He is commemorated on November 30, so Advent begins on November 27 this year. We can learn much from the life of St. Andrew. He was a plain, ordinary man working at the fishing trade to make a living, yet he was the first one chosen by Christ to help him with his work on earth. What made him special was the way he learned to follow Christ. He would become, as Jesus told him, a “fisher of men”. He was someone who brought other people to Jesus. Thrilled at being asked to join Christ, he rushed to find his brother Peter so that Peter could join Christ as well. He is the one who brings a small boy who has five loaves of bread and two fish in a basket to Jesus. Andrew had real faith in Christ. He knew that somehow Jesus would feed all the people with that small amount of food, even if some of the apostles thought that Andrew was ridiculous to bring this small boy forward.

The third time we hear of Andrew in the New Testament is when he brings some Greeks to see Jesus. Andrew spent his whole life bringing people to Christ. His brother Peter became more important than he, but Andrew did not care whether anyone thought he was important or not. He did whatever Christ wanted him to do. He died for his faith tied to an “X” shaped cross in a town in Greece. On the cross, he said a beautiful prayer to Christ to receive him and died very bravely. He is known to have preached in many lands and he is the Patron Saint of Russia, Greece, and Scotland.

Faithfulness like that of St. Andrew can help our three churches stay strong and flexible as we undergo this period of transition. We give thanks for the faithfulness of our church members and the support of our supply priests and the Diocese of Central New York as we weather this rough time without a shepherd. We know that the love of our Good Shepherd surrounds us as we each do our small part within our ordinary lives to bring the Good News to those around us.

How beautiful upon the mountains

Are the feet of the messenger who

Announces peace,

Who brings good news,

Who announces salvation,

who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Isaiah 52:7

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