I am intrigued by the account of Mathias being chosen to replace Judas as one of the twelve apostles. (Acts 1:12-26) Judas in his sorrow for betraying Jesus committed suicide. That meant that another of their company needed to join the ranks of the twelve to bear witness to Christ’s resurrection. Joseph, called Barsabbas, and Matthias were the two candidates. The eleven prayed that the Spirit would direct their choice. After prayer they cast lots, and the lot fell on Matthias who was then enrolled with the eleven.
Casting lots is a curious way to determine leadership in ministry. Some feel, however, that even with our many requirements for ordained ministry utilizing extensive education, search committees, deployment offices, and great expense, we might do just as well casting lots – or go back to what used to be called “the good old boy” system, selecting people we already knew. For the eleven Mathias would have been a “good old boy.”
The method of casting lots was to put stones with names written on them into a vessel and shake it until one fell out. But it is also possible that the Greek word used in this instance may have meant “gave their votes.” In any case, the lot fell on Matthias.
We still use the phrase, “It is my lot to do it.” And for many who choose to go into the ministry there is a feeling that the lot has fallen on them to serve. This happens to all sorts of people who accept a call to either lay or ordained ministry.
The “lot” actually falls for all of us whether our gifts to serve are used for religious purposes or for the welfare of others. “Loving our neighbors as ourselves” is the directive originating in the heart of God. We can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, supply shelter to the homeless, heal the sick, and comfort the afflicted whether or not we put a religious label on it. The goal is to love, to serve others, to strive for justice and peace among all people, and “to respect the dignity of every human being.”
Like Matthias, the lot falls to each of us to be lovers of our Creator and to serve one another as sisters and brothers. We don’t have to put our names on stones and swirl them around in a vessel until our name is released. God’s love is inclusive, and we are all part of that love with a commission to share it.