Easter VII 2021: Tixover and Zoom.
“and the lot fell on Matthias” Acts.1.26.
We have just been to the polls and changed the life of one poor chap who will now be the Police Commissioner for our region. With a small cross on a piece of paper, we will have done our civic duty. Can we assume that our man is equipped for the job? And what about the Hartlepool By-election? Does the massive swing guarantee that the new MP will be able to cut the mustard in Westminster? Isn’t this voting business a bit precarious?
The Election of Matthias.
We have just heard about another vote in the first century AD. Two candidates were put up to replace Judas who didn’t make the cut. The Church needed 12 apostles to follow the pattern of the 12 tribes of Israel but would Matthias be any good? ‘The lot fell on Matthias’. We don’t know much about him after the election so we can assume that he kept his nose clean. For what it’s worth, you may like to know that the Greek for ‘lot’ – that’s the result of the voting – is “cleros” which is rather close to our word, ‘clergy’. It reminds me of a rather poor joke: that clergy are rather like manure. In a heap they do no good at all, but spread arounds they might just be of some use.
From our reading this morning we do know that the two candidates had known Jesus. It was a condition that they had been in his company for some while to absorb his values and temperament. And before the vote we are told that 120 persons took time out to pray before casting their lots. This suggests that the election was inspired by God in some way. It was not haphazard.
We don’t know much about Matthias but one biblical scholar tells us that he was ‘of secondary importance’(Blunt, 1923). What does this mean? Does it mean that he was inadequate or just a late comer to the larger band of disciples who followed Jesus around the Holy Land?
We are about to begin our Church elections for wardens and PCC members. They will be conducted along similar lines to the election of Matthias. The church community has been praying for some time now that the right choices will be made to allow this parish/benefice to continue the ministry of Jesus among us. We all tend to idolize previous clergy or wardens or M.P’s and think that the present generation can’t be as good but that is not borne out by the facts. Our current crop of wardens and PCC members do an excellent job in conditions which have changed enormously from 20 years ago. They are not ‘of secondary importance’. No one is perfect but our elected representatives – especially the wardens – are there to do a precise job, “to be foremost in representing the laity and in cooperating with the incumbent.” (Canon Law) That is a tricky line to follow but we have had on our screens just recently an excellent model of sensitive service. The 3 main characters in ‘Line of Duty’ were appointed to catch ‘bent coppers’ but as fallible human beings as well as serving police officers they were prone to all manner of problems – failed marriages, financial issues, drugs – but they were aware of that. Their job was to be honest about themselves and honest with those with whom they dealt.
Jesus didn’t choose saints to be his followers. They were rough fishermen and dodgy tax collectors.
They were appointed to do a job: to make saints of us and each other under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
We have to remember this imperfect nature of humanity when we think of standing for the PCC or warden. We do it from our flawed humanity, not as saints. It is silly to say, ‘I’m not good enough’ and arrogant to think that we should be saints already!
We have just celebrated the Ascension of Christ. His restricted presence in Jerusalem is now to be found everywhere and in the most unlikely people. That is why I am confident in our wardens and PCC members. I have to listen to them and them to me. In that way, we can discern what course we are to take through life in this exciting and holy community. To God be the glory. Amen.