Today is the feast day of St. Andrew, the first Apostle.
Just as Andrew was the first of the Apostles, so his feast is taken to be the beginning of the Church Year. The First Sunday of Advent is defined to be the Sunday on or nearest his feast (although it could equivalently be defined as the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day).
Most references to Andrew in the New Testament simply include him on a list of the Twelve Apostles,Saint_andrew or group him with his brother, Simon Peter. But he appears acting as an individual three times in the Gospel of John. When a number of Greeks (perhaps simply Greek-speaking Jews) wish to speak with Jesus, they approach Philip, who tells Andrew, and the two of them tell Jesus (Jn 12:20-22). (It may be relevant here that both "Philip" and "Andrew" are Greek names.) Before Jesus feeds the Five Thousand, it is Andrew who says, "Here is a lad with five barley loaves and two fish." (Jn 6:8f)
The first two disciples whom John reports as attaching themselves to Jesus (Jn 1:35-42) are Andrew and another disciple (whom John does not name, but who is commonly supposed to be John himself -- John never mentions himself by name, a widespread literary convention). Having met Jesus, Andrew then finds his brother Simon and brings him to Jesus. Thus, on each occasion when he is mentioned as an individual, it is because he is instrumental in bringing others to meet the Savior. In the Episcopal Church, the Fellowship of Saint Andrew is devoted to encouraging personal evangelism, and the bringing of one's friends and colleagues to a knowledge of the Gospel of Christ.
Several centuries after the death of Andrew, some of his relics were brought by a missionary named Rule to Scotland, to a place then known as Fife, but now known as St. Andrew's, and best known as the site of a world-famous golf course and club. For this reason, Andrew is the patron of Scotland.
It is said that Andrew was crucified on a an 'X' -shaped cross. His symbol is a Cross Saltier, white on a blue background.
(taken from a biography by James Kiefer)
Almighty God, who gave such grace to Your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of Your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by Your holy Word, grace to follow Him without delay, and to bring those near to us into His gracious presence; Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.