It's St Andrew's Day here in Scotland and since 2007 this has become a bank holiday (not that we have bank holidays in the church!). The Scottish government's flag-flying regulations state that the Scottish Saltire (flag) should be flown, on this day, on all its buildings wherever there is a flag-pole. I wonder how many will actually pause this day to think about the flag and what it represents. It is called the St Andrew's flag after our patron saint - St Andrew (seen above in a painting by José de Ribera).
St Andrew is also the patron saint of other countries including Romania and Greece and of fishermen, golfers and performers.
He was a fisherman and one Jesus' disciples ("lay down your nets and follow me) but, before that, he was a follower of John the Baptist. John came to show the way, to point to Jesus, the one who was to follow. And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
Andrew was a follower of John but John pointed him towards a different path. A path that was to lead him to walking side by side with Jesus and ultimately following in his footsteps for the rest of his life. Andrew was to end his life in crucifixion for his faith. But, not on a cross like Jesus (a Latin cross) - Andrew apparently considered himself to be unworthy of that. Rather, he was crucified on a Crux decussata or, as we know it, a saltire.
As the flag flies across Scotland today we bring to mind a man who dropped his nets to pick up a new life, to become a fisher of men.