There is a rabbinic saying that whenever a man or woman walks down the street he or she is preceded by an invisible choir of angels crying, “Make way, make way! Make way for the image of God.” The World’s Religions by Huston Smith.
Chapter two of Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved talks about that each of us is chosen by God no matter our religious background. Nouwen writes about the problems we have today with the word Chosen: it sounds competitive, exclusive, and brings up wounds from not being chosen or being excluded from a group.
He begs us to not give up on the word chosen because for him it does 2 things: 1-unites all living beings and 2-appreciates each of our unique gifts and talents.
For insight into the word Chosen, I turned to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ book, Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence. In speaking about chosenness, Rabbi Sacks offers two insights. First, we are all created in God’s image, but that does not mean that I am created in your image and you are not created in my image. In some mysterious way, you and I reflect God’s image yet in different ways as expressed through our personalities, perspectives, gifts, talents, and even religious views. Second, saying that God chose a people does not mean that God excludes others. This would make God’s Love small. In the Jewish tradition, chosen meant that they were given a special task (Abraham’s call in Genesis 12) to be a blessing to others even suffering on behalf of others. This special task did not mean that others were not chosen for even in the Hebrew Bible God mentions being on the side of other nations.
In our Yoga Sanctuary gathering, we were asked to consider how we would talk about our chosenness in a way that included others instead of excluded them.
For me, I relate chosenness to my purpose or being created uniquely for a special task. I have longed to feel like the chosen one, to feel loved, to be the “darling” of some group or church or business. The greater my attempts, the more painful the feelings of rejection.
As much as I long for affirmation when I fully embrace who God created me to be, I know that my role in this life is different from those who are considered a group’s golden child. But that does not mean that I am not chosen. I am chosen to point the way forward. I am chosen to be petrified tree sap, Amber, a jewel. I am chosen to be the fireworks that shake up the night sky. I am chosen for good, to be honest, straight forward, and inclusive of all of God’s creation. I am chosen to be a safe haven, a listening ear, to see the suffering, and to speak for those who have no voice.
One group who explored the idea of being chosen arrived at the conclusion that we choose to be chosen.
When I resigned from my last pastoral position, I said, “I choose me!” This was another major step in accepting who God created me to be, to accept my chosenness in spite of the rejection I felt from others.
May you choose to accept that you are chosen so that by your example others will follow.