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Being Disciples (August/September 2019)

Dear Friends

As well as counting in 9, 8, and 7 backwards from 100 when I can’t sleep I also try to remember the 12 disciples and invariably forget Thaddeus or Nathanael.  What was Jesus thinking, choosing such a motley ill matched team.  It was if he sat down and chose the most unlikely men to spread the Good News, and yet, He did and here we are 2000+ years later.

They were a group of Galileans said to be fond of innovation, change and renowned for quarrelling. There was Thomas who needed real proof, always asking questions. The fishermen, James and John inseparable but who knows what underlying sibling rivalry. Coming from a well to do family (their father had hired servants in their fishing business). Did they think they were a cut above the rest? Peter and Andrew, even more sibling rivalry?  Peter jumps in, ask questions later. He’s impulsive, emotional but always contrite. Andrew had followed John the Baptist and then changed allegiance to Jesus, but he was someone who introduced others to this new Rabbi.

Nathanael (came from royal blood) tradition says he was a scholar in law and the prophets, what did he think of this new teaching and these semi illiterate followers?  Thaddeus and Simon were Zeolots, they were nationalist, hated the Romans, and expected a different Messiah. Then there’s Matthew, a tax collector, a man with the job most hated on religious grounds, even thought criminal. What courage it must have taken to join the group. Judas was given the job of holding the common purse, not Matthew the obvious choice. Matthew could use a pen and paper, imagine that conversation when the job was allocated. How did Simon and Thaddeus tolerate Matthew, a collaborator of the Romans?

Phillip, had a missionary instinct, as seen in his journeys and then there is James (brother of Matthew?) What a collection of different personalities and characters.  Apart from sibling rivalry, nationalist fervour, status issues, doubts and making themselves homeless and unemployed these 12 men still followed this charismatic Jesus throughout his ministry.

Thinking about it I suppose every group, work place and congregation has the same mix of people with different views, backgrounds, and experiences. Just as the disciples worked together so must we, especially in an interregnum.  Listening, phoning and praying for each other are things we can all do whatever our age or circumstances.

Browsing the internet the other day I came across a youtube which was very moving and thought provoking reminding us we are all disciples equally responsible for each other, our congregation and the world in which we live.

Just type in
It made me cry.

Jean Isaacs