Thursday, May 14, 2009

On not being chosen

today the church celebrates Matthias, the "after thought apostle" who made the cut only after Judas went his own way. Matthias, of course, was famously chosen by lot and as I thought about this with the 9.00 congregation this morning, I found myself drawn to poor Joseph Barsabbas, the one whose lucky number did not come up.

It must have seemed so hard.
I imagine that both of them had been part of the outer ring, - among those who were with Jesus as often as possible, listening to his teachings, wondering at the miracles, by turns exhilarated and bemused, cast down and over-joyed. Now, for most of that group, the adventure was over. Whatever the impact of their time with the Nazarene, they now had no option but to head back to reality, to shoulder family responsibilities, pick up their lives. It was time to batten down the hatches on top of hopes and dreams and re-engage with reality.

Except suddenly a reprieve was offered.

One of them - one of them could join the apostles, and continue to share the joy of that vision they'd all experienced for a while.
But when the decision was announced, it wasn't Joseph but Matthias who was the "winner".
I wonder how Joseph felt...
Tempting, I'm sure, to wash his hands of the whole enterprise...
"They don't need me, so I'll just get on with my life and pretend none of that Kingdom stuff ever happened".
But I hope and believe that what he had seen, what he had been part of, had so changed him that he lived his ordinary life in an extraordinary way...
That he realised that it was not only possible, but essential to witness to the resurrection where he was, in his familiar workaday context...

Tonight we have a Deanery Eucharist at which the diocesan Vocations advisor will preach on the theme
"We are all chosen for ministry".
We do need constant reminders of this truth, and I know there will be some in tonight's congregation who are struggling with what God's call might mean for them, when circumstances in life, or in the church, make straightforward routes impossible.
We are all chosen...
How would I have heard those words in the wake of my first Selection conference, when the panel were very clear that the call I was certain of was not one they could endorse?
Would I have been able to keep my mind open, or would the hollow laughter have drowned out her words?
We are all chosen...though perhaps not in the way we expected.
I'm looking forward to hearing C's words - she's a good preacher, with a clear vision of God's calling for all his children, and I know she'll send us home with much to consider.
I do hope, though, that when she begins her sermon, she might use as her launch pad not Matthias, the one who was chosen, but Joseph, the one who wasn't...the one who had to deal with his own experience of death and resurrection, and then live so that others recognised that story as their own.


Song in my Heart said...

We are all chosen...though perhaps not in the way we expected.


Sally said...

Interesting, as I have spent time over the last few days with three friends who have been told by the Church that they are not called to ordained ministry, the pain is immense, and it is hard to retain a sense of my own call in the midst of it. Thank you for this reflection, it helped.

Michelle said...

We are all called, we cannot all answer....

Anonymous said...

amen K - some days are harder than others, but hope lives on in other places and times. thanks for reminding me of this perspective.

Song in my Heart said...

Psalm 138:8 reminded me of this post.

The Lord shall make good his purpose for me; •
your loving-kindness, O Lord, endures for ever;
forsake not the work of your hands.