Posted on Tue, Nov 18, 2014
November 15, 2014
Matthew 25:14-30 “Blessings Before Our Eyes”
The Parable of the Talents
14 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” 21 His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” 23 His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26 But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Did you notice that two weeks in a row we have Old Testament lessons featuring angry prophets? Zephaniah is a very short book, again he referred to as a “minor prophet,” but his message is powerful. He isn’t all doom and gloom, he is just warning the people of God’s wrath when we turn from God’s blessing… The outlook for those who have been chosen, released from slavery, made great in battle… but yet, have turned their back on God, is not good. But tucked in those three chapters of warning and dread, there is this little ingot of a text:
2:3 Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,
who do his commands;
seek righteousness, seek humility;
perhaps you may be hidden
on the day of the Lord’s wrath.
This is a message to those who have ‘ears to hear,’ as Jesus puts it, that there is hope if we look and listen for the presence of God. The job of a prophet, even if it is to warn the people of judgment, is really to make sure the People of God, know their predicament and that they will never be alone.
Then, our lectionary psalmist blesses us with more words that point to the truth that life is difficult, filled with hardship but short in the mind of a truly Awesome and Majestic God. The heart of the song/psalm is comforting in letting us know that in all of our lifetime, our Great and Awesome God, is never far, is always with us, and will always be our God. It is a Promise.
Then we move on to another difficult Gospel lesson. The Gospel can be preached in many different ways. The people in Jesus’ day would have heard it as a story about a rich man, or a nobleman going on a journey to increase his finances by going out to network and do business in some other city. His “slaves” were not simple slaves but educated administrators given a task to work hard and make their master a profit with the monies provided. If they didn’t succeed, there would be dire consequences. If you read it this way, there are many justice issues that arise against the nobleman and for the slaves. The slaves are doing all the work only for the profit of the master… what does that say about justice, equality or just the way the society was broken down in those days? That’s one way of reading it…
Another way of reading it is saying it is all about getting prepared for the “end times.” Many TV evangelists like this approach, but if we look carefully at the Epistle, Paul is telling us we will never know the day Jesus will return so don’t worry about the future, Jesus is here now! LIVE AS IF JESUS IS HERE TODAY! LIVE AS IF JESUS IS WALKING WITH YOU TO GET SOME GMO FREE COFFEE AT SOME LOCAL COFFEE SHOP RIGHT NOW!
But when we put this Gospel in harmony with the epistle, psalm and cranky Zephaniah, I find Good News that hit me on a much more personal and visceral level.
I want you to imagine you were me, and you visit someone that feels lost or alone. They may be very honest speaking from the heart saying, “my faith is weak,” or “I just don’t see or feel God around me.” What do you say or do? Do you say, “Your faith is weak, read the bible more, and make yourself strong!” Or, do you tell them “because their faith is weak, you feel so sad and all these bad things are happening to you?” Or, something like, “I know that you feel bad today, just suck it up because Jesus is coming someday, and then everything will be peachy when He gets here!”
Each of these texts, in their own different ways, are telling us that a God so Amazing and filled with Unconditional Love is with you right now, feel the pain but understand the pain doesn't define you, work through the grief, repent if you can, but know that the Blessing of God’s presence is with you now and always… open your eyes to see God’s beauty, open your ears to hear the Good News of Jesus death and resurrection, open your heart so that you can see God in the love of those around you.
The most painful thing I experience as a pastor is when I see people allow the fear to control their lives so that they can’t see the blessing of God, and their fear becomes the center of their attention.
In the Gospel Text for today, I hear Matthew telling his little flock that the blessings of God are all around you. And each blessing is huge. I like that in English we use the word, “Talent” meaning something like a blessing. Even though Jesus is talking about a ‘talent’ as the amount an average laborer would earn in a year, or according to some scholars 20 years! A talent was a large sum of money.
So, since there are many meanings of the word ‘talent,’ and it is the time the Nominating Committee is working on finding talented people to fill openings on our Council of Deacons, and we are always looking for people to help with various jobs, let’s just define a ‘talent’ in modern terms and let it mean a personal blessing that you bring to the Body of Christ!
The “man going on a journey” is bestowing “blessings” upon his trusted servants. God has blessed Matthew’s little group with blessings, in order for the church to complete their mission of preaching, teaching, comforting and worship, what should they do with their “talents/blessings?”
If organists like Tom or Ina buried their talent in the ground, how could we worship with such inspiring and joyous music? If Susan and so many others weren’t so good at finances how would we know how much we have to support programs, missionaries, and do service? If people didn’t take Jesus’ message to take care of the orphans, strangers and orphans seriously, how would we ever be inspired to feed all the hungry that come to our campus?
I find our motto, “Blessed to be a Blessing,” so important, but put it in the perspective of that we are blessed so that we can share that blessing, and in so doing we then grow in faith, awareness, experience, empathy and such.
When a person buries their blessing, their lives can be as if they have been cast out into “utter darkness where there is much darkness.” I can just hear the prophet Zephaniah screaming at us, “open your eyes and live according to the blessing your loving God has given you now! Don’t wait to live according to faith, let your faith grow in your trust in the Lord.” Just think, the man who buried his talent, had to wait in fear for a long time before his master returned. I would bet he lived in a sense of dread and fear knowing that one day the master would return and find nothing. There is no reason to live in fear when the Spirit of God, and the Promise of Reconciliation is closer than the air we breathe.
When we open our ears to the gift of forgiveness, we arise to walk in the Light, or as the man on the journey said, “enter into the joy of your master.” Joy comes with the grace that goes beyond all understanding.
Go and find a quiet place. Give thanks to God for loving you and ask God to help you discern the gifts, the talents, you were to given to you, so that you can find your identity to be a blessing as a member of the Body of Christ. Amen.
No messages have been posted.
You must first create an account to post.