14 May 2013

Acts 1:15-26

“Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have.’” (v. 24)

Background: Chosen in prayer

In today's passage, we drop in on Peter taking the lead on an important issues: finding someone to replace Judas. It is worth remembering that this is the same Peter who had opted to return to his previous career of fishing, when Jesus' had not been scooped up a sky-full of angels, but had died horrifically. It is also the same Peter who was included when Jesus appeared to the remaining disciples after his resurrection. It is this Peter that we encounter, sensitively explaining what had happened, and what process needed to be to fill the vacancy that Judas' demise had created.

Evidently, Peter and the other disciples had learnt a thing or two about recruitment and selection, and so they avoided the mistake of judging by appearances. History would also have shown them that heritage - be it family or social status - were insufficient too. So, instead of looking for a tall, good-looking, wealthy replacement who might fit in with them or stand out for all the wrong reasons, they drew up a shortlist based on essential criteria of character, experience and testimony. Then, and perhaps most importantly, they pray for discernment in the selection process. They cast their lots - or votes - and Matthias was added to the 11 disciples.

Elements of this process are evident in organisations today, be they a church, charity or private company. Whether the process is complex or simple, at the heartbeat of a sound recruitment and retention process there is usually the desire to match people with the opportunities and roles that make the most of their abilities and experience. To be effective, the process should be robust enough to guide those doing the choosing, and to engage meaningfully with those who could be chosen. Peter led this process, and as if realising that essential criteria were not enough, he invited those who were making the decision with him to pray for God to show them who had been chosen. Peter's action seem to have set a precedent and a pattern that others have followed both in making personal choices and public appointments too.

To Ponder

  • What role does prayer play when you are making choices?
  • How does Peter's example encourage you to pray?
  • Who would you consider praying with/for as they make choices?

Bible notes author

The Revd Katei Kirby

The Revd Katei Kirby is currently heading up the Belonging Together project in the Connexional Team. This initiative celebrates the Methodist Church's ethnic diversity, and seeks to embed this at all levels of the Church's life and ministry of the Church.