February 2021 Letter

Controlling Our Own Actions


Taking over where someone else left off is tricky. When the sequel to Gone With the Wind was filmed, consider the pressure on the actors who had to recreate the roles played by Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable. Not only did they have to give credible performances in their own right, but they were also constantly being compared to the original Scarlett and Rhett.


It’s difficult enough to try and live up to your predecessor’s glorious reputation, but it’s even more difficult to have to live down a bad one. St. Matthias, who is commemorated on February 24th in the church year, had that challenge. The only thing we know about him is that he was chosen by lot to take Judas Iscariots’ place among the 12 apostles (Acts 1:16-25). Imagine going through history known as the one who replaced Judas. No matter what Matthias did, the first thing people were bound to remember was that he took over from the person who betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane for 30 pieces of silver.


We can have similar difficulties. If we replace a person who was well liked and left under favorable circumstances, we can end up being constantly reminded that our predecessor did things differently. Conversely, if the person was fired, we become known as the one who took over so-and-so’s job. In either case, it’s difficult to establish our own identity in the shadow of our predecessor.


The best—and only—thing we can do when we’re faced with that situation is to focus our attention on the task at hand. We can’t change what the person who had the job before us did or didn’t do. All we can control are our own actions, through the help of the Holy Spirit.


Almighty God, You chose Your servant Matthias to be numbered among the Twelve by replacing Judas Iscariot. Grant that Your Church, ever preserved from false teachers, may be taught and guided by faithful and true pastors. Help us to focus on the task at hand that You’ve set before us in our various vocations, as You helped Matthias focus on the task of spreading the Good News of Your Son; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


February Blessings!


Pastor David A. Feddern