"For many are called but few are chosen." - Matthew 22:14
I've walked the nature trails around our neighborhood pond many times and seen rabbits, birds, even the occasional deer. Today, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a beaver. I looked again and there it was, like it had always been there, sitting calmly on the bank, chewing something green and leafy held between its front paws.
I described the beaver and its lunch to my walking buddy, another Jennifer, who is blind and so could not see it. Then we were quiet while Jennifer listened. The beaver was too far away even for her keen hearing, but she did find a couple other pond dwellers, locating them by the sound of rustling in the reeds. Sometimes I can see things Jennifer wouldn't have noticed. But I'm hard of hearing, so other times it's Jennifer who notices things I wouldn't, like creatures out of sight and on the move close by.
Many are called, Jesus teaches, but few are chosen. This seems hard, and exclusionary, not like the Jesus we love to love. Recently, though, I've learned that the Greek word translated "many" could be translated "all" and that knowledge changes this passage for me.
All are called. God has already made God's choice. The only choice left is ours. Will we choose to make this journey alone, to blunder along with our limited senses and understanding, or will we choose community, companions whose abilities complement ours? All are called. Maybe the reason the few are so, well, few, is because we haven't learned yet to travel together, to choose relationship with God and each other over all our other choices.
The wild creatures are always at the pond, but it takes both my eyes and my friend's ears to locate them. All are called. Today let us choose to go forward, arm in arm, ready to be one another's eyes and ears and hands and hearts.
Open our ears, dear God, to your call, ringing brightly around us even now. Amen.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.