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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Celebrating St. Andrew's Day

Andy is my husband, and November 30th is his "name day"!  The Feast of St. Andrew determines the date Advent begins, so his day always comes at an especially busy time of year, but I'd hate to overlook Andy's day!  First, let me address the obvious.  Not a lot of Lutherans celebrate their name day, but I say, "why not?"  Especially when it comes to our children, the idea of having a friend of the faith from antiquity that shares your name is just neat.  Maybe your name connection is a hero of the the faith or even a Christian martyr - after all I don't meet many children named Judas!  Learning about the triumphs and tribulations of those who have gone before us in the faith can be a great encouragement. Of course we don't pray to or worship anyone but the one true God, but it's fun to see how God works in and through sinful people for His glory. 

Many of the traditions associated with the celebration of St. Andrew's day are methods for determining a marriage partner.  Ironic, huh!  Some of them are pretty strange, involving kicking off shoes and other such nonsense that as far as I can tell have nothing to do with the Apostle Andrew, and certainly are not the means God speaks to us today!  Here's another example, on the eve of St. Andrew write the names of potential suitors on slips of paper, place them under your pillow, then draw one out when you wake up in the morning and voila!  You know the name of your future beloved!  Since we don't practice divination, this tradition is out.  But there is another irony to this day that inspired me to morph this pagan practice into something fun and fitting for the occasion. 

Look at Peter's adoring eyes!
First a little Bible history.  Andrew was a follower of John the Baptist before he was a follower of Jesus.  Then, John 1:35-42 tells us that John the Baptist introduced Andrew to Jesus.  Once Andrew recognized Jesus as the Messiah, he told his brother, Peter, this Good News!  Evangelism starts at home, then and today!  Of course, dear readers, you know that our son's name is Peter.  So, once again, in our home Andrew is telling Peter about the Messiah, Christ Jesus! 

Instead of placing the lovers' names under our pillows, we decided to put some love under the pillow for husband and daddy - Andy - to find in the morning.  I can't tell you HOW excited Adelae was about this little project! 
St. Andrew is often depicted with a diagonal cross shaped like an "X", also called a saltire, upon which tradition teaches Andrew was martyred. Our little under-the-pillow-love-notes featured such a cross.  I cut colored squares and strips of paper that Adelae, and even baby Pete with a little help, glued diagonally into a saltire cross.  Once glued in place, just snip off the excess strip off the corners.

Plaid Pete about to eat his paper saltire!
On the back, we wrote our little love notes. I encouraged Adelae to write something to tell Daddy that we love him and that Jesus loves him. Notes are suppose to be secret, but I'll tell you what Adelae wrote, "Dear Daddy, Jesus loves the BIG ones like you!"  Cute!

I should note that before making our saltire cross notes, I needed to help Adelae understand exactly who this "Andrew who's not daddy" is, and why he died on a cross too, so I got out a book I received when I was a baby.  Our Christian Heritage by Good Will Publishers is incredible, not only because it has large, realistic pictures of many Biblical characters, but because it was given to me from the bank, restaurant and a few shops of the local community where I was born in Millersburg, OH!

My side of our conversation went like this,  Here is a picture of Andrew.  Andrew was Jesus' friend and follower.  Before Andrew was friends with Jesus, Andrew was friends with John the Baptist (cue picture of John the Baptist).  John the Baptist told Andrew about Jesus, and Andrew knew that Jesus had come to be his Savior.  Andrew did bad things sometimes, just like you and just like me.  When Jesus died on the cross (cue picture of Jesus on the cross) He died for Andrew.  Jesus died for Adelae too.  And for Mommy.  And for Daddy.  And for Peter.  Yes, and for John the Baptist.  After Jesus died, Andrew wanted to tell everyone about Jesus.  Some people didn't want to hear about Jesus', so they hurt Andrew.  They put him on a cross and he died. But his cross was different than Jesus' cross.  Using our fingers we made a "Jesus cross", then rotated it to make an X.   Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but Andrew did not die for our sins.  Andrew just loved his friend, Jesus, and wanted to tell people about Jesus' love. 

See, what's not to like about name days?  But if a little mid-week Sunday School lesson doesn't have you convinced yet, I hope you saved room for dessert!

Since Andrew is so strongly connected to the Scottish people, we just had to make some St. Andrew's Shortbread.  I've never made shortbread before, but when I looked at a handful of recipes, they were all about the same.  Butter. Sugar. Flour.  Cream, mix, roll, cut, decorate, bake, eat! I'm sure there are many more little professional details, but this simple plan worked for us.

Peeling butter labels in plaid hair bows!
 To add a little St. Andrew's flair, we pressed popsicle sticks into the cookies in a "X" shaped saltire cross.  These will be a fun treat for Andy after a long day of work and our Wednesday night Advent service. 

To work off all that butter, I had one final X-shaped idea.  Jumping Jacks, er, Jumping Andrews...? Haven't you noticed that the best conversations can happen when playing together as a family?  

Don't forget the readings for St. Andrew's Day, click to read
John 1:35-42a

St. Andrew's Shortbread
1 c butter, unsalted and cold
1/2 c sugar
2 1/2 c flour
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Cream together the butter and sugar.  Stir the salt into the flour.  Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar.  Use clean hands to squeeze into a ball of dough.  Roll out the dough and cut into squares.  A cookie cutter would work nicely too, but we wanted our cookies square today.  Use a popsicle stick to press "X" crosses into each cookie. Bake until lightly browned, about 20-25mins.  Makes about 36 cookies.  Extra dough is great fun for little hands!

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