June 2021

Your choice!

The other day was the Feast Day of St Matthias. (COVID restrictions prevented the usual street parties.) Matthias was - as I hardly need to tell you - the one chosen to replace Judas Iscariot as a member of The Twelve. Chosen, that is, not by the remaining eleven, but by God.

It was not all that long before that that Jesus, in his farewell discourses to the disciples at the Last Supper as recounted by John, said, ‘You did not choose me: I chose you to go out and bear fruit - the fruit that will last.’  For those of us who are Christians, that is a clear message. We did not choose Christ: we were chosen by Christ. And we were chosen in all our various ways to work for the good of his kingdom - a kingdom of peace, justice, love and reconciliation.

It is an important reminder to us of two things: the first is that we are all different - we all have different gifts, talents, strengths, weaknesses, personalities and temperaments. The second is that we all have to decide how we use these. That decision is going always to be based upon what we judge as being important. And that judgement is going to be based upon our doctrine. And, to be clear, we all have a doctrine: the only difference is between those who recognise that they have a doctrine and those who don’t. Those in the latter category tend to end up with their lives being dominated by the central importance of ‘me, me, me, me, me’: and sadly, for many of them, their universe has a rapidly shrinking population.

Recognising that one has been chosen is curiously liberating and exhilarating - just ask anyone who has recently become engaged to be married if you want confirmation of that: there are many around here at the moment!  Recognising that one has been chosen by Christ is certainly liberating and exhilarating, but also humbling. For being chosen by Christ is being chosen to use one’s gifts, talents, strengths, weaknesses, personalities and temperament for the service of others. It also includes recognising that other people’s gifts are equally as important as yours: that bearing fruit involves many workers with many tasks, all dependent on each other. 

The two qualities all so visible in the record of the early church that showed different people working together for the good of the people around were ‘comfort’ and ‘confidence’. They are not words with Latin roots. The prefix ‘com’ or ‘con’ mean ‘together’: for the root of each word ‘fort’ means ‘strong’ and ‘fidence’ means ‘trust’. The church operates by people working together: that gives individuals strength. What keeps them together is trust: trust in God - that is what the creed ‘I believe in God’ is all about, trust in each other, for no organisation can operate unless each of its constituent members depend upon each other, and trust in oneself - a recognitionthat we do have gifts, talents and so on, and that those gifts and talents are valuable. Sadly, for many, it is that last component that people find most difficult.

We have all been chosen. How we respond to the knowledge of that choice is up to us. Do we do so joyfully, recognising that we are part of a kingdom of peace, justice, love and reconciliation, or do we turn our back on that, and instead be part of a kingdom of me, me, me, me, me?