Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester
Seeking, serving and sharing Christ from a well of passion
Today we honor Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester in the early 1600s. Andrewes was the favorite preacher of King James I. His eloquent sermons were admired by many, and known as witty, grounded in Scripture, and exhibiting his massive learning. Andrewes was a distinguished biblical scholar, and one of the translators for the King James Version of the Bible. He was dean of Westminster, educating many noted churchmen, including poet George Herbert. He was also known for his piety, for defending the catholicity of the Church of England, and for generally being a model bishop.
What is challenging for us today is accessing Andrewes as modern readers. His eloquent sermons were so academic that they make difficult reading for modern people. I remember reading Andrewes for a theology class in seminary – and though I loved his work, I did have to slow down significantly to read his work. That often happens to us – something gets so academic or heady that we stop reading or listening, cutting ourselves off from the potential for learning. As a church that praises learning, sometimes we are not always diligent with challenging ourselves beyond our comfort zones.
That is why I love our Psalm lesson today. The psalmist says, “O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a barren and dry land where there is no water.” The psalmist knows a kind of pursuit of God that is passionate, all-consuming, if not desperate. The psalmist longs for refreshment from parchedness, because the psalmist knows how incredibly satisfying finding God can be.
This kind of passion for seeking God is the same passion Andrewes had for God. This is the passion that the psalmist and Andrewes would want for us too. We may not seek God in the same ways or through the same books or experiences, but the psalmist and Andrewes invite us into a more passionate seeking of God in our lives. When we say we are a community seeking, serving and sharing Christ, this is the kind of passion with which we do that work. May your soul thirst for God today. Amen.