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Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.
When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.”
(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
“For,” said Peter, “it is written in the book of Psalms, “`May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, “`May another take his place of leadership.’ Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
CCI: The quiet servants, the church mice, are God’s heroes.
Intro: This passage of Scripture is not for Elephant Christians. Some of you are Elephants in your faith. Elephant Christians never forget to pray. Raise their voices in praise in a way that is beautiful. When they speak they move the heavens. These Christians have faith that is exemplary. They face death with courage and walk to the graveyard without fear. Elephant Christians cause the earth to shake when they go into spiritual battles. Their defenses are strong and their convictions certain. I admire Elephant Christians, I thank God for you who are elephant Christians, but I can not identify with you.
Instead, I identify best with the church mouse.
When I was youth, there was a person in the congregation who played the role of the church mouse. She was totally anonymous, but was everywhere. When people pulled together to help at a dinner, the church mouse thanked them. When a member of the church was honored, the church mouse made sure others knew about it. When children were sick, the church mouse let them know she was praying for them. Quietly, without making a big stir, without anyone knowing who she was, the church mouse changed that congregation. I once asked my parents who the church mouse was in each congregation. In one congregation it was Bea. Bea was my teen Bible Study leader. She did a lot things, but very few people knew what she did. She was never in the spotlight and it was only after her untimely death because of cancer that people began to understand what this woman had done so quietly. As I continued to ask questions about the church mouse, I learned that there had been a person in each of the churches my father served. I asked him who they were and I think what he said was very significant. “I don’t even remember who the church mouse was in Slippery Rock.”
The church mouse is the Christian who serves in silence.
Every church has church mice. They are the quiet people. They are the people who faithfully but quietly carry out their ministry every day. They are not elephants who shake the earth with their spiritual battles. At times they are timid and run away if people notice them. They hide in the shadows and are happy if no one even notices them.
Though we as Baptists do not celebrate patron saints, I think Matthias would be a wonderful patron saint for those who are church mice.
Only once throughout the scriptures do we hear about this man. The text tells us he was with Jesus from the time of the baptism of Jesus until his ascension. He was with Jesus at every turn, yet we never hear anything about him. He was with Jesus when the 5,000 were fed, but we don’t hear about him there. He was with Jesus when the blind man called out, but we don’t hear about him. He was with Jesus when Jesus entered Jerusalem in the pilgrim parade, but we don’t hear about him. He was probably with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them in the upper room following his resurrection, but we don’t hear anything from him. Even after he became an apostle, we know virtually nothing about him. Concerning all the other apostles there is strong tradition of their manner of ministry. However about Matthias there is only a hint in a few that he probably served his entire ministry in Jerusalem. Matthias was a man who quietly, in an unobtrusive way served Jesus Christ daily.
There are several traditions around Matthias, all of them declare that he was killed for the Faith. Some place him in Modern Georgia where he was stoned to death, some place him in the interior of Ethiopia where he carried the message to the native people, and some suggest that he was stoned and beheaded in Jerusalem. There is even an epistle that was lost to history that bore his name at one time. But today, we know nothing of his ministry.
Yet this man was important to God. After the ascension of Jesus, about 120 men and women who had been with Jesus went back to Jerusalem to wait for the promise. After several days of prayer, Peter got word of the fate of Judas. There was probably a mumbling of approval when the disciples heard about his death. Peter would not write him off though. After recalling scripture that seemed appropriate to the situation they determined it was time to find one to take Judas’ place. Two were chosen. Joseph, who may be the man later referred to as Barnabas, and Matthias. The disciples then prayed for God’s leading. “Show us which of these two thou hast chosen Lord.”
With that they threw dice and the dice fell upon Matthias. This man who had seemed so insignificant, this man who was never mentioned, this man about whom we know nothing but this event was important enough to God for God to reach down and affect the roll of dice that day.
You see, church mice are heroes in God’s eyes.
And the Bible is full of church mice. The prophet Miciah was a church mouse. One time we read of the king calling for him and never again do hear of him. Yet that one time he spoke God’s word boldly.
In Jeremiah we meet a church mouse, an Ethiopian, named Ebed Melech, the servant of the king. One night he risked his life by taking a battalion of soldiers into the king’s courtyard. There in an old, unused well, Jeremiah was being held prisoner. The next day he was to be executed. But Ebed Melech took these soldiers to the cistern and he lowered a rope to Jeremiah. He then threw rags to the old prophet to put around the rope as he tied it off so as not to hurt his arms. He risked his life to show kindness to Jeremiah. And then he disappeared from the pages of the Bible.
In 1 Kings we meet a little church mouse whose name is never revealed. She was little servant girl who told her master Naaman, a leper, about the prophet Elijah who could heal him.
You see, church mice, the quiet people come in all sizes, races and ages. But they are heroes in God’s eyes.
Many of you here today are quiet, timid church mice. You look at the Christian elephants all around you and you stand in awe. At times you are ashamed of the little insignificant things you do for God. You wish could believe more, but you doubt and have questions. You wish you could pray like they do, but instead you go through periods of drought in your prayer life broken up by refreshing times of splashing in pools of renewing prayer, only to be followed by more times of dryness. You wish you could witness like they do but your mouth goes dry when you try to speak about your faith.
And so you serve faithfully as a Sunday school teacher. Or you daily take care of an aging parent expecting no recognition, or you pick a widow up for church each week. Or you provide tutoring for a child who is struggling in school. Or you quietly give of your resources to spread the good news. Or you repair a porch for an aging couple. Or you faithfully pray for your pastor. When someone thanks you, you try to hide in the shadows, and yet God sees you. You who are church mice, who think little of yourselves, you are heroes in God’s eyes.
You see, it was for church mice, as well as for Christian elephants that Jesus came. He came to bring the same salvation to the quiet and timid as for the loud and famous. God loves the church mouse so much that he not only reached into this world and affected the roll of dice, but he came into this world and lived and died for you.
Maybe today you feel like you are unimportant. Perhaps you think your contribution doesn’t matter. Perhaps you wonder if there is really a significant ministry for you. If you feel that way today, I want to share with you a few statements are true of every church mouse as well as every Christian elephant.
You are the salt of the earth
You are the light of the world.
You are a child of God.
You are Christ’s friend.
You have been chosen and appointed by Christ to bear his fruit.
You are a saint.
You are righteous and holy.
You are a new creation.
And you are a dwelling place for God.
Because God loves you and because he has chosen you to be his child, He comes to you, whether mouse or elephant as a father to his child. Derek Redmond was favored to win the 400 meter race in the ‘92 Barcelona Olympics. Halfway through his semifinal heat, he crumbled to the track as the pain of a torn hamstring muscle ripped through his leg.
Redmond fought to his feet and set out hopping, pushing away the coaches in a crazed attempt to finish his heat. As he approached the stretch a big man with a T-shirt that said, “have you hugged your Kid Today?” pushed his way through the crowd. It was Jim Redmond, Derek’s Father.
“You don’t have to do this,” he told his weeping son.
“Yes, I do,” Derek declared.
“Well, then,” said Jim, “we’re going to finish this together.”
And they did. Jim wrapped Derek’s arm around his shoulder and helped him hobble to the finish line. Fighting off security guards, the son’s head at times buried in his father’s shoulder, they stayed in Derek’s lane to the end.
The crowd clapped, then stood, then cheered and then wept as the father and son finished the race.
What made the father do it? What made the father leave the stands to meet his son on the track? Was it the strength of his son? No, it was the pain of his child. His son was hurt and fighting to complete the race. So the father came to help him finish.
That is what God does for his children, whether they are elephants or mice. Our prayers may be awkward, our attempts may seem futile, our energies may wax and wane. But friends, the power of the Christian life, is in the redeemer, not the redeemed. The power of prayer, is not in the one who prays, but in the one who hears the prayer. And so, if you know Jesus Christ, no matter how quiet your life may be, as you live for him each day, you are a hero in God’s eyes.