The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary – The 7th Sunday of Easter (Day 1)

Acts 1:15–17, 21–26
15 During this time, the family of believers was a company of about one hundred twenty persons. Peter stood among them and said, 16 “Brothers and sisters, the scripture that the Holy Spirit announced beforehand through David had to be fulfilled. This was the scripture concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 This happened even though he was one of us and received a share of this ministry.”
21 “Therefore, we must select one of those who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus lived among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when Jesus was taken from us. This person must become along with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 So they nominated two: Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
24 They prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s deepest thoughts and desires. Show us clearly which one you have chosen from among these two 25 to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” 26 When they cast lots, the lot fell on Matthias. He was added to the eleven apostles.

One of my favorite stories:

A boy and his grandfather were sitting on the front porch one afternoon. Their dog lay at the grandfather's feet. A few moments later the dog fired off the porch barking furiously and chasing something through the shrubs and beyond. The grandfather looked at his grandson and winked. "He's seen a rabbit. He'll never stop chasing him."

Soon other dogs joined the chase, barking and howling, and racing after the first dog in and out of the trees and into the woods beyond. They could hear the dogs continuing the chase for some time. Then, the barking lessened, and one by one, the other dogs came out of the woods and returned to their homes. Only the first dog kept chasing and barking and pursuing his prey.

The boy looked up at his grandfather quizzically. The old man said, "You know why the other dogs quit chasing and ours didn't?" The boy shook his head. "It's because our dog is the only one who saw the rabbit. The other dogs chased our dog and that's why they got tired and gave up. But once a dog has seen a rabbit, it never gives up the chase."

When the early church sought a replacement for Judas in the circle of the 12 apostles, they required his successor to be “a witness to (Jesus’) resurrection.”  They had to be like the first dog in our story – the one who saw the rabbit, the one who will never give up following and seeking the risen One.

This, I think, is the one necessary and sufficient criterion for ministry in the church.  Only those who themselves passionately follow the rabbit – the risen Christ – can faithfully lead the church.  Such leaders will not seek to gain their own followers but will always by intention and practice seek to enable of their sisters and brothers to see the One they have seen too.
Too many “leaders” today seek their own followers.  Genuine leaders in the church are first and foremost followers themselves – passionate, single-minded, whole-hearted followers - of the risen Christ who do not want to build a following but rather to make disciples:  present day believers and communities who themselves have seen and passionately follow the risen One too.

May their number increase today, tomorrow, and every tomorrow God grants till kingdom come!


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