21 We need to choose someone to take his place…
23 So they suggested the names of two men. One was Joseph, who was called Barsabbas. He was also called Justus. The other man was Matthias. 24 Then the believers prayed. They said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen. 25 Show us who should take the place of Judas as an apostle…” 26 Then they cast lots. Matthias was chosen. So he was added to the 11 apostles. –Acts 1: 21, 23-26
A motley crew of weathered apostles circle up to roll the dice. Luke is careful to use this term, apostle, rather than disciple. An apostle is one who was an eye-witness to Jesus ministry, death and resurrection. A disciple is a believer who has heard the stories of Jesus – like you and me. Luke thought it important to replace an apostle with another eye witness. After the death of Judas, Acts claims that Peter called the group to seek a replacement. Much like our process this evening. They nominated two reasonable candidates who fit the description of an apostle. They prayed, “Lord you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen.”
The practice of casting lots is mentioned in the Old Testament and New Testament. Nothing is known about the actual lots themselves. They could have been sticks of various lengths, flat stones like coins, or some kind of dice; but their exact nature is unknown. The closest modern practice to casting lots is likely flipping a coin.
So, the apostles cast lots. They rolled the dice. They flipped a coin. And the lot fell to…
Tonight, we will hear nominations from the floor of business meeting and select through ballot voting seven from among us who will be charged with finding our next pastor. Like the apostles, we want to nominate a group of folks who have been eyewitnesses to the stories of Baptist Church of the Covenant, apostles – active in the life of this body and devoted to building up this faithful community. There are likely other sought after qualities as well: persons devoted to prayer and tending one’s own personal spiritual growth for example.
We will vote for seven of those to represent the greater congregation. Each person gets to vote for up to seven people out of those nominated. Our votes will be tallied to find the top seven out of all the votes cast. It feels like casting lots to me. I know some might argue with that. Be my guest.
Truly, it’s not the casting votes that is the most important act this evening. If we want to follow the example of the apostles, we must also say our prayers. Let us be praying as we go about our day, or on our knees, or in complete solitude. Let us be intentional about prayer for this crossroads in BCOC’s story. Pray for our discernment; wisdom; clearness of mind and eye. Pray for the ability to trust the outcome. Pray that when we say, “Lord you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these you have chosen” that we can trust those who ARE chosen to represent the greater body that is Baptist Church of the Covenant. Once they are selected, there will be so much more for which to pray, but let’s save that for tomorrow.
Tonight, we will see to whom the lots fall.