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Tuesday, July 26, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | Acts 1:15–26
In those days Peter stood up among the brothers and sisters (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Brothers and sisters, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus, for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his bowels gushed out. This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the book of Psalms,
‘Let his house become desolate,
and let there be no one to live in it’;
‘Let another take his position of overseer.’
“So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was added to the eleven apostles.
For years I was perplexed by this very odd and random way to choose new apostles. But as I have read commentary from it over the years, one question raised in various circles continues to resonate with me: “What kind of church do you need to be to choose your leaders by lots?” It’s a challenging thought. Many congregations, especially those in the Presbyterian Church (USA) spend many years training their leaders, especially their pastors. Those aspiring leaders fill their days and even nights studying biblical texts, Hebrew and Greek, history, theology, pastoral care, missiology, as well as more recent additions like community organizing and psychology. After such a long discernment process, in our tradition, both the individual and their community must affirm their entry into the leadership role.
At first glance, the disciples’ method seems rushed and premature. But it also presupposes a community in which all persons are equipped for whatever ministry responsibility God and circumstance places upon them. And so, two millennia removed, it challenges me as a pastor to prepare all who come to the church to embrace the joys and challenges of service, and to ensure that all are able to contribute. It challenges me to affirm that each of us, through the practices of everyday life in the communities that we inhabit, are all being formed and shaped for ministry. We may say we are not worthy or ready, but God still calls. Thanks be to God.
God who gathers, prepares, and calls all, help me to take on the mantle of service with boldness, intelligence, and imagination when in your timing the moment comes. Amen.
Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Associate Pastor for Evangelism and Community Engagement
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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