It has been said that, “many are chilled, only a few are frozen.” I discovered this simple little truth in my time in ministry in a small village in northeast Yukon. It had been a beautiful day the day before. Only – 3 degrees. Overnight, as is common in that part of the world in December, the temperature dropped and the mercury nearly fell out of the thermometer. When we woke, it was a bone chilling -45 degrees. I walked to the to the school to help clean up from the previous night’s Christmas concert and the pancake supper. Coming home I wanted to start the van to let it warm up as we wanted to take Joshua to the nursing station. It was a mistake to start the van which had not been plugged overnight. In doing so I “blew up” the power steering pump and could not drive the van.
It was an interesting experience walking like most others in the community did that time of year. It would take some time to get anywhere because you had to be dressed properly to go outside in weather like that. And to get properly dressed took time. There were layers of clothing to put on and no skin could be left exposed because it would freeze in seconds. And I quickly discovered that I was know not just for my large parka, I was known in the community by how I walked how fast, how far and by what or even who I was pulling on a bright red sled.
Getting ready for Sundays during his period. It was a particular challenge as I walked back and forth the church every five hours starting at suppertime Saturday night and to meet the challenge and stay healthy, I had to remove some of the outer wear so that I did not sweat and then go back out into the winter weather. Five times a day around the clock I would dress, walk feed the fire and return home.
I share this with you to help reflect on the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14). “Many are called,” Jesus said, “but few are chosen.” To me this is an ongoing dialogue that is been happening between religious leaders and Jesus (and his disciples in including the early Church) over what Jesus is teaching now that he is teaching in the Temple and in Jerusalem.
Jesus compares the religious people of his day to those who have originally been invited to the wedding feast which has now finally come time. Everyone who was invited is told that it is time to actually come and participate. The time for waiting is over and the time for doing and acting is now. Who actually responds? Is it those who are well aware of what time it is? Is it those who are well versed in Scriptures and are aware of what God asks of them? In large part, it is not. It is those who have not known or not heard the message, who are invited and because they have been invited they choose to come. The servants - the prophets – call the everyday individual who will heed God’s call and are drawn into relationship with God because of what God provides for them.
And in this is a particular point that the Church and the leadership in particular should heed: many are called, only a few are chosen. Chosen leaders are not their own. They are chosen, selected particular individuals upon God is pouring out his grace and mercy for so that each leader can minister fully and effectively to those he and she finds around him and her. Ministry is not just about the one person who wears the signs and symbols of the faith – it is about all of the community. The inability of such a person to fail recognize this will fail and find themselves out in the dark searching for their teeth so that they could begin nashing them all the while wondering what it was that went wrong.
Remember that while we wait, we work for him who is Lord of this vineyard and in him we live and move and have our being. Let us move into what God provides and be good stewards of it.