Summary: What criteria do we need to choose someone in ministry?
Story: The vicar in a certain parish developed a rather strange habit .
Regardless of what he was doing, at 5pm if he was at home, he would rush out of the room he was in and go into his study for five minutes and then return.
After a bit the parishioners started to notice and wondered what this was all about.
So they collared the church warden to ask him to tackle the vicar about this.
So the churchwarden made an appointment to see the vicar:
He started: "Vicar, people in the parish have been talking about this strange habit of yours.
At 5pm every evening, whenever you are home, regardless of what is going on, you rush off to the study. Why?"
The vicar looked at his watch and said
" Well it's almost 5pm, why don't you come with me"
So they go up to his study and look out of the window.
Now the study overlooked a railway line and as they stood looking out of the window the 5pm train to Leeds rushed through.
The churchwarden was puzzled and looked at the vicar and said " Well what's so special about that?".
Well the vicar replied
"I like to look at the train, because it is the only thing in my parish that moves without my having to push it!"
I have heard comment s like “the church never cares for us”, when I know full well that someone like Addy had visited the person.
The reason is that people in and outside the church equate the Vicar with the church.
But that is wrong: We are all the Church and all I and Barbara are are people that the church has recognised as having a call from God to lead the Church.
Some times you read an advertisment for clergy in the Church Times that even the Arch-angel Gabriel would have trouble fullfilling.
“The ideal applicant for the job as vicar of the parish should be 25 years old, with 30 years of experience in preaching.
He has to be tall and short, slim and heavyset.
He should work from 8am till 10pm at night every day and do every type of work from preaching to cleaning the toilets out in church (just to keep him humble).
And finally he should make 15 calls on parishioners a day and never be out of the office.”
( loosely taken from Chuck Sindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustraions and Quotespage 419)
Our Second reading today is from the book of Acts which gives us some guidance on the criteria that should be applied for ministry.
St Peter speaking as the leader of the Church sets out various parameters.
1. Firstly Peter sets out the NEED for the position that to be filled!
In Acts 1 , the job was to find a person to fulfill Judas Iscariot’s position as one of the 12 apostles.
Judas you will remember, who having betrayed Jesus and full of remorse, hanged himself.
There are a number of references to apostles in the New Testament but this was a very special position.
Often the 12 Apostles are also called apostles of the Lamb.
So in Acts 1, the Church was looking for a new Apostle of the Lamb.
Their role was simply to be able to be an eye witness to Jesus’ minsitry here on earth. From his baptism by John in the Jordan River to hi death and his resurrection.
2. Secondly Peter sets out the reason for the need for a new apostle
As Jesus Himself had chosen the 12 himself, did the Church have the right to replace Judas?
I believe the warrant for replacing Judas was found in Scripture
Peter bases the need for a new apostle in verses from the Psalms.
20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:“‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and,“‘May another take his place of leadership.’
Here Peter quotes from two Psalms Ps 69 and Ps 109
In addition, John Stott in his commentary suggests that Peter may also have had in mind that Jesus had taught that the 12 apostles were to reflect the 12 tribes of Israel (see Luke 22;28-30).
Having given the Scriptural reason for making the appointment :
3. Peter tells the Church what experience is needed for the person who was going to take Judas’s place
Peter says that he must be
“one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us.
For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
This wasn’t an impossible task because, at that time when Judas’s successor was chosen, there were about 120 men in the Church.