Date: 22 Oct 2002
Time: 14:54:40

Comment

It seems to me that the most precious gift God has entrusted to us is the life, death, and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ. The parable of the talents somehow brings to mind for me the lyrics of Twila Paris' song, What Did He Die For? She expounds on the death of a 20-year-old soldier in WWII, and then on the death of Jesus in AD 33. The chorus says, What did he die for when he died for you and me, Made the sacrifice, so that we could all be free? I believe we will answer each to heaven For the way we spend a priceless liberty. Look inside and ask the question: What did he die for when he died for you and me? Also brings to mind some of the final words of Private Ryan: Make it count.

Let your life show that God's precious investment in us counts for something.

MBG in California


Date: 31 Oct 2002
Time: 19:28:16

Comment

Can you post the lyrics, I can't seem to locate the song. Nancy-Wi


Date: 07 Nov 2002
Time: 08:44:11

Comment

I'm planning to go with the theme of wasting life as the most valueable "Talent" God has given us. What could be more tragic than to waste the life that God has given us. Speaking of songs (previous thread): there is a beautiful song by Christian artist Chris Rice entitled "Life Means So Much;" he sings: "Every day is a bank account, and time is our currency; so, nobody's rich, nobody's poor, we get 24 hours each. So how are you going to spend? Will you invest or squander? Try to get ahead, or help someone who's under? Chorus: Teach us to count the days, teach us to make the days count, show us a better way, somehow our souls forgot, life means so much, life means so much, life means so much."


Date: 07 Nov 2002
Time: 09:06:11

Comment

How do we reconcile Matthew and Judges? Is there a common thread?

Deborah lives with a kind of non-anxious presence (sitting) in the midst of war, terror, and is able to lead the Israelites to victory.

The man with one talent - is scared of a hostile unforgiving god and does not take any chances, he protects his talent by burying it!

I think the link has something to do with faith and how we live in the mids of unpredictability.

tom in ga


Date: 07 Nov 2002
Time: 13:17:20

Comment

Two poems from Sermon fodder(sermon nuggets) home.twcny.rr.com/lyndale Parody on "Foot prints in the sand"  One night I had a wondrous dream. One set of foot prints there were seen. The foot prints of my precious Lord but mine were not along the shore. But then some stranger prints appeared. I asked the Lord, "What haave we here?" These prints are large and round and neat but Lord, they are too big for feet. My child he said in somber tones. For miles I carried you alone. I challenged you to walk in faith but you refused and made me wait. You disobeyed, you would not grow; the walk of faith you would not know. So I got tired, I got fed up and there I dropped you on your butt. Because in life there comes a time when one must fight and one must climb. When one must rise and take a stand...or leave your butt prints in the sand. Poem, "Free" ”To laugh is to risk appearing the fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out for another is to risk involvement.To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self. To place your ideas, your dreams,  before a crowd is to risk their loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair. To try is to risk failure. But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing. They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, live. Chained by their attitudes, they are a slave, they have forfeited their freedom. Only a person who risks is free.” Source unknown


Date: 07 Nov 2002
Time: 13:19:11

Comment

Sermon fodder URL is: home:twcny.rr.com/lyndale


Date: 08 Nov 2002
Time: 04:48:51

Comment

The master was gone for "a long time." How long is a long time? If "a long time" is a working lifetime, then the 100% return of the good and faithful servants is not such a great return at all by our standards, and also the standards of the day, and perhaps the "interest in the bank return" the lazy slave might have achieved would have been greater than a doubling. There is also a hint that any return at all is satisfactory (although I like the former better than the latter.)

This suggests that Jesus is concerned with with the quality of the investment and the investor's effort rather than the rate of return. If the master is gone for a lifetime, then perhaps the talents (and the abilities of the slaves) are the stuff that the master has given for a lifetime of sustenance for the slave and those in his/her keeping and the master's desired investment return. The master says make a living and pay me back in the end. And the payment the master seeks is most to have participated in risks and the righteousness of life lived intentionally for the master.


Date: 08 Nov 2002
Time: 04:52:39

Comment

The master was gone for "a long time." How long is a long time? If "a long time" is a working lifetime, then the 100% return of the good and faithful servants is not such a great return at all by our standards, and also the standards of the day, and perhaps the "interest in the bank return" the lazy slave might have achieved would have been greater than a doubling. There is also a hint that any return at all is satisfactory (although I like the former better than the latter.)

This suggests that Jesus is concerned with with the quality of the investment and the investor's effort rather than the rate of return. If the master is gone for a lifetime, then perhaps the talents (and the abilities of the slaves) are the stuff that the master has given for a lifetime of sustenance for the slave and those in his/her keeping and the master's desired investment return. The master says make a living and pay me back in the end. And the payment the master seeks is most to have participated in risks and the righteousness of life lived intentionally for the master. Sandra, God's bean counter in NJ


Date: 08 Nov 2002
Time: 04:53:17

Comment

The master was gone for "a long time." How long is a long time? If "a long time" is a working lifetime, then the 100% return of the good and faithful servants is not such a great return at all by our standards, and also the standards of the day, and perhaps the "interest in the bank return" the lazy slave might have achieved would have been greater than a doubling. There is also a hint that any return at all is satisfactory (although I like the former better than the latter.)

This suggests that Jesus is concerned with with the quality of the investment and the investor's effort rather than the rate of return. If the master is gone for a lifetime, then perhaps the talents (and the abilities of the slaves) are the stuff that the master has given for a lifetime of sustenance for the slave and those in his/her keeping and the master's desired investment return. The master says make a living and pay me back in the end. And the payment the master seeks is most to have participated in risks and the righteousness of life lived intentionally for the master.

Sandra, God's bean counter in NJ


Date: 09 Nov 2002
Time: 21:22:39

Comment

I'm preaching at a different church - well, two churches - where a lay pastor usually preaches. Not being ordained, he cannot serve communion, so that's what I'll do. Any ideas on obvious tie-ins to the Eucharist in any of these passages?

One thing that bothers me is the use of shameing in sermons (Aren't you ashamed of yourself for wasting your life when the Lord paid such a price for it ... ). I keep thinking of Isaiah's vision: nobody told him he was unclean, he just caught a glimpse of the greatness of God. Can we just preach the greatness of God without scolding ourselves and our people?

kbc in sc


Date: 09 Nov 2002
Time: 22:25:16

Comment

kbc You remind us that if we don't bring God's grace, then we fail in our task. Where is grace in the talents? The master reaps where he has not sown and gathers where he hasn't strewn, just as the Joshua passage--if we include vs. 24:13--reminds us that we live in cities we haven't built and harvest from trees we didn't plant. We all rely on that which we cannot provide for ourselves--we all rely on God's grace and gracious provenance.

The eucharist is God's grace poured out beyond measure--the abilities great or modest that we "possess" and the talents that come to us in the way of opportunity to do our master's will are also God's grace. We should not be ashamed to admit that we are needy in every way, that we need God's grace in order to live, especially to have life and to have it abundantly.

Sandra in NJ


Date: 10 Nov 2002
Time: 09:07:43

Comment

There is an interesting parallel between Judges and Matthew:

Deborah embraces a wrathful God - one who defends his people.

The Man with One Talent runs from a wrathful God - who judges him for not investing his talent.

What does this suggest? Is there a difference between a "royal" person (a war-lord) and a common person?

Is it possible for us to embrace a Holy and Just God who stands against us and yet is tenderly near?

tom in ga


Date: 10 Nov 2002
Time: 12:56:16

Comment

I think sometimes we emphasis the talents here. It's not the Number of Talents. We can reverse it, you ever did that? One Talent person goes and gets 10 more 5 talents makes 2 and 10 talents does nothing.... the one with 10 will loose them and be given to the 1! The least shall be first and the first least, right? Those who stand by doing nothing will be 'rewarded' but not like they think?!?! I can't help think about the trial that took place when I was in college. They made a TV movie about it , with Jodi Fostor...I woman was raped in a public place and the standers by did nothing...some cheered the rapist on! Then Rapist were obviously criminals...but the stander by was he/she not worse??? We may think we are sinning, but if we stand by and do nothing for our fellow man and his/her search for God...redemption...WOE TO US! Pastor Mary in OH


Date: 10 Nov 2002
Time: 13:05:57

Comment

Do we really shame someone by mentioning stewardship of time and talents? I am not so sure. It seems like there are plenty of books out there on self improvement. Can our not be a gentle way of Spiritual-improvement? Perhaps it is in the delivery of the words, or as a Mother would do "redirect" a child. God's grace is there, but we still have to embrace it. Nancy-Wi


Date: 10 Nov 2002
Time: 13:09:06

Comment

Another Early Thought:

Isn't it interesting that these three men respond not to the master (God) but to their image of the master.

There is no doubt that this is exactly how we behave before God - if we see him as gracious, loving, and tender we will respond to him one way; and if we experience him as harsh and unforgiving we will respond another way.

How do we, the community of faith, give strength to people so that they may learn the mystery of God who calls us into life?

tom in ga


Date: 10 Nov 2002
Time: 14:13:48

Comment

Nancy-Wi, you can find the lyric on this site - it's about 6 page downs to the words. Deke in TX - Pace e Bene

http://www.angelfire.com/ny5/jimerson/memorial.htm


Date: 10 Nov 2002
Time: 19:35:43

Comment

As I look at that third "talented one' and wonder of his fear I think of a quote from Nelson Mandela. It speaks of a fear to offer oneself and what one has to offer.

Bill in Austin

Our Deepest Fears By Nelson Mandela (from 1994 presidential inaugural address)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.


Date: 10 Nov 2002
Time: 19:36:05

Comment

As I look at that third "talented one' and wonder of his fear I think of a quote from Nelson Mandela. It speaks of a fear to offer oneself and what one has to offer.

Bill in Austin

Our Deepest Fears By Nelson Mandela (from 1994 presidential inaugural address)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.


Date: 10 Nov 2002
Time: 23:18:03

Comment

Do we mistakenly call not using our talent "humility?" Do we mistakenly call not using our talent "Being humble?" Why do we find ourselves calling some who use their talent "show-offs?" while we ourelves hold back on our own talent?

Our talents - who does it really benefit? Us? Those around us? Or God? Who should it really benefit? The story seem to indicate our talents are really for God. We are created for God...

Phil in the north


Date: 11 Nov 2002
Time: 04:46:22

Comment

Bill in Austin, People have been attributing this quote to Mr. Mandela for quite some time. It really belongs to by Marianne Williamson from her book, "A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles"

http://www.skdesigns.com/internet/articles/quotes/williamson.html

This thing has a life of its own. In the beginning the quote was credited to Mr. Mandala. Now, I notice there are claims the Mr. Mandala quoted Ms. Williamson in his speach. Mr. Mandala made two inauguaration speaches, one on May 9 in Cape Town and then in Pretoria on May 10. The links below will give you the texts. There is no sign of "our deepest fear". Nelson Mandela's Address to the People of Cape Town on the Occasion of his Inauguration as State President -- Grand Parade, Cape Town, 9 May 1994

http://www.polity.org.za/html/govdocs/speeches/1994/sp0509a.html

STATEMENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS NELSON ROLIHLAHLA MANDELA, AT HIS INAUGURATION AS PRESIDENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA -- Union Building, Pretoria 10 May 1994

http://www.polity.org.za/html/govdocs/speeches/1994/sp0510.html

Deke in TX - Pace e Bene


Date: 11 Nov 2002
Time: 12:09:53

Comment

Hi, everybody, I'm back!

After both a kidney stone and a perforated appendix, I believe I will finally be getting back to the pulpit this Sunday!

This text is not my favorite one for a number of reasons. I, also, do not feel good about shaming tactics, but that seems to be the way the focus of the pericope leads us.

Could we possibly encourage the people to believe that they (and we) are among those to whom God has given multitudes of talents, and uplift those ways in which we are all using those talents to increase the kingdom?

More work needed, but it feels like the direction we'll be moving in this corner of the kingdom.

Michelle


Date: 11 Nov 2002
Time: 15:08:24

Comment

tom in GA I think you've got something there. The parable could be suggesting that our image of God can hinder God's ability to work through us. What good is a talent (gift) if we are too petrified to use it? We have essentially lost it anyway. That's why "from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away." Now, for a longer way to say that. Max in NC


Date: 12 Nov 2002
Time: 05:32:45

Comment

Two weeks ago, I preached on the absolute necessity of being humble. Last week, it was the absolute necessity of being spiritually disciplined. This week, it seems that there is an absolute need to take risks for the kingdom of God. How do we manage these "absolute necessities"? It's like riding a bike -- when we find ourselves leaning too far in any one direction (being humble, practicing private disciplines, taking risks) we either fall over or we find balance and keep moving forward in the Way.

OLAS


Date: 12 Nov 2002
Time: 06:08:38

Comment

It seems to me this parable (in the light of Judges) moves us between the dynamics of our lives from despair to hope.

These men with one, two, or three talents live in us. At times we have faith and take risks and at other times we are afraid. Sometimes God seems gracious to us and at other times he seems harsh. Is not this the experience of the Israelities under the oversight of the Judges (Deborah). When the Israelites were faithful God blessed them and when they moved away from God and worshipped other gods God punished them.

Does this make any sense?

tom in ga


Date: 12 Nov 2002
Time: 06:17:23

Comment

kbc in sc - to tie in Communion; the talent we receive every Communion service is the body and blood of Jesus Christ. We become one with Christ. That's one tie in.

On a different note, as I made my way through the 1999 postings and the NewInterpBible commentary on this parable I found something I'd never seen before. What I found was the two very different images which were presented of "the master." One of these portraits came from the words of "wicked and lazy slave" and from the master's response to him. This portrait is that of a master who reaps where he did not sow and gathered where he did not scatter. The other portrait is presented by the masters actions. Those actions were that the master trusted his slaves/servants with huge amounts of money, 5 talents, 2 talents, and 1 talent. (1 talent is equal to 15 years wages for a day laborer). Then when the master returned from the journey he rewarded just as lavishly.

Two very different pictures of the same master. Did the 5 and 2 talent recipients act out of fear or out of love? The 1 talent recipient acted out of fear and got nothing out of it.

Mark in WI


Date: 12 Nov 2002
Time: 07:51:28

Comment

I'm wondering about looking at the third slave not as acting out of fear, but as not acting at all (possibly out of fear).

The third slave did not set out to do anything wrong, just failed to do anything right. We, also, do not often set out to do wrong, but sometimes fail to do right. We leave the litter on the ground, after all, we didn't drop it there. We walk on by rather than offering assistance (as in the parable of the Good Samaritan). How often do we hear someone put down by those who deride, and not even attempt to "explain actions in the kindest way" or "put the best construction on everything"?

Now, how to encourage "works" for the kingdom, without making it sound as if works are the payment for salvation...

Michelle


Date: 12 Nov 2002
Time: 07:54:59

Comment

I think our focus should not be on the slaves' actions, but on the masters' actions. The master freely gave these talents, which are very generous, considering that one talent alone is worth over 15 years' wages. Through the death and resurrection of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, we are able to react to the master's giving. It is because of what has been first given to the slaves that they are able to "trade" or give or whatever with their talents. But it would not be possible without the master's first gift.


Date: 12 Nov 2002
Time: 11:50:59

Comment

The passivity of the man with the one talent:

What causes this passivity? Why would a man (with only one talent) fail to invest his gift? Is he afraid the market will crash?

Some say it is because of his own image of God as wrathful. And others agree saying that what we fear the most will come true. But can we give it this psychological twist some 2000 years later?

Why doesn't this one respond? The early church fathers would suggest simply this reflects a mystery of iniquity?

After all what would have God said if the other two who did invest their talents lost everything? What then .... I don't think it would have been "those who lose their life for my sake will have found it." It has nothing to do with that ... it has to do with taking what is God's and putting it to use. But the meaning of this parable is not all that clear!

tom in ga


Date: 12 Nov 2002
Time: 12:10:01

Comment

Hmmm .... a few dilemmas here from the conversation thus far ... to scold or not to scold the congregation, to invest or not to invest our resources, to view ourselves as capable and entrusted or as sinners in the hands of an angry God. Are we afraid of our power or of a powerful master?

I'm trying to get this reconciled somehow, and I'm thinking Tom in GA has offered a clue: that it's our image of God that drives our actions, by way of influencing our image of ourselves, our image of ministry, our image of others, our image of leaders, our image of church ...

I think of Deborah - her nonanxious presence (good description, whoever said it) seems to indicate that she wasn't as impressed with God's fearsomeness as she was with his faithfulness.

I'm hoping to talk about the human end of things without scolding. But, parables were meant to instruct people on faith matters, and to hold accountable.

What we're afraid of is that God's power is going to work through us and make us into something/someone we don't recognize - one who may not be well-liked by society - and to call us into the unknown future.

Sally in GA (starting too late, forgive the rambling)


Date: 12 Nov 2002
Time: 14:26:11

Comment

Since this is the only reading from Judges and since most of our people (I would imagine) have never read Judges or even knew it was in the Hebrew Scriptures. It will be important to introduce Judges as part of the story of Deborah. Here is an interesting quote that I came across and hope you will find helpful. It is from Fleming James, The Personalities of the Old Testament:

" It was through the bitter experiences of the centuries which elapsed between the Conquest and the establishment of the monarchy that Israel learned her mistake, and the story of the lesson is told in the book of Judges. The whole is a repetition of a regular cycle of events, and may be stated in a formula: “And the children of Israel forgot YHWH their God, and served the Ba’als, and YHWH sold them into the hand of A (an oppressor), and they served A for so many years. And they repented and cried unto YHWH their God, and YHWH raised up for them a Judge, B, who delivered them out of the hand of the oppressor. This repetition moves from apostasy, oppression, repentance, and deliverance. The god, Ba’al exercised no authority except within his own limited area, this god was a disintegrating force, separating city from city, village from village. This god kept people separated and made them an easy prey in the disunited communities into which Palestine was split up, and plundered, and destroyed their victims."

Now the reason I did not place this on the Judges page is that it seems to me to have a lot of commonality with the Parable and it gives us a way of introducing Deborah.

It seems to me this movement from apostasy, oppression, repentance, to deliverance is salvific is at the heart of the story of the talents. The problem with the man with one talent that he was frozen unable to move from apostasy and oppression to repentance and deliverance. His own fear and image of a wrathful god prevented his ability to move toward grace.

tom in ga


Date: 12 Nov 2002
Time: 14:29:22

Comment

I'm planning to 'borrow' a sermon title from a lay speaker friend: "When I Get Into Trouble for Nothing." I just found it an ingenious title!!

Oh, and MBG in CA, I believe the correct quote from Saving Private Ryan is "Earn this."

UMPreach in AR


Date: 12 Nov 2002
Time: 14:32:31

Comment

tom in ga

Ahh, you've turned the parable around! It could be that "use it or lose it" is not the message (or at least not the whole message).

Perhaps it IS a message of encouragement. Encouragement to take risks with God's gifts. The landowner took a certain amount of risk in leaving the talents with the slaves.

Although we don't know what would have happened if the 5 and 2 talent investments hadn't paid off, we do know that nothing would have happened without the risk. Perhaps we can be encouraged by the landowner's response.

I would also like to think that the results for the 1 talent slave had more to do with consequences than punishment. After all, if something is hidden away it is for all practical purposes gone.

This has been particularly interesting this week.

Max in NC


Date: 12 Nov 2002
Time: 19:35:57

Comment

It seems to me that the parable calls us to be accountable before God for the way in which we use the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do we risk believing the Good News in the face of death itself, or do we believe God to be harsh and oppressive, thus burying the Gospel? We can't figure God out. What do we do with God who is both generous and able to cast us into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth? We want God to be predictable and I think this parable throws us into a faith struggle. Finally, we are given faith to trust that God is gracious through Jesus Christ alone. Faith trusts the promise that when I can't figure God out, God has found me and loves me. That is not burying the Good News and trying to maintain things as they feel most comfortable to us. It is risking the promise and trusting the Good News. This may not feel comfortable but it is God's way of risking everything, even the life of God's own Son, so that we may have life forever with God.

Tom in MO


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 07:27:53

Comment

Dear DPS friends...

I've been in this preaching business (the Lord's business) for almost 40 years and I find it gets harder...especially this parable of the talents.

How can a God of grace and mercy send the poor 1 talent guy/gal into the "outer darkness"? And what is the "outer darkness" any way? I don't want this coming off like "hell, fire and brimestone". Yet....God does make JUDGEMENTS doesn't He?

Help!!! Jim In Ks.


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 07:36:23

Comment

Jim in KS writes:

How can a God of grace and mercy send the poor 1 talent guy/gal into the "outer darkness"?

There is no doubt that this is a hard saying, but not one without grace. First of all, I think there is a parallel between the Virgins who were oilless and this man with one talent ... they both didn't act. Now having said that it is important to recognize that God (the Master) accepts him just where he is and gives him, himself. That is that God does absolute nothing different from the one talented man has already done. This is why our image of God is so critical in our own spiritual life. The god we imagine is the god we receive. It is a call to spiritual growth and risk. I think it is wrong to focus on the harshness of God and focus more on this man's need for a new revelation and a new hope and a new imaging of God.

Unlike the wise who could not help the foolish, I wonder if the faith community can help this man, to bring him into a new self awareness. Indeed this man's new identity begins with his own self knowledge. Recognizing his need he will discover God anew.

tom in ga


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 08:01:39

Comment

This week I shall emphasize verse 15, that each received according to his ability. I plan to encourage all members of the congregation to value their spiritual gifts and find ways to use them productively, ie: to share the Gospel. Pastor Rick in FL


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 08:18:36

Comment

tom in GA, responding to what we "expect" from God is really interesting. I am thinking of going this way too. Investing talents (money, resouces, energy, whatever) for a master who is absent but coming at some time is a sign of our faith in the masters goodness. Not investing is evidence of our fear. I am wondering how to flesh this out for my downtown church that needs a bit of investment in the future. Q in CT


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 08:19:35

Comment

There is an interpertation of the Parable of the talents that I would like to suggest. When the master came to the slave to whom was given the one talent the slave began to explain. “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and his your talent in the ground. Here is what is yours. What was the master’s response? “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 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.” What are we to make of the master’s response? If in telling the parable if the master is to represent God, does this sound like the God that Jesus taught about. Is this the God of grace and love that we find in the New Testament? How do we reconcile this with what Jesus tells us about God? In the 25th chapter of Matthew that we read from, and in the preceeding chapter Jesus is talking about judgement and about the responsibilities of his followers. In the Parable of the Talents Jesus has the master saying you knew what I was like and you should have acted in terms of what I was like. Recall the words, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 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.” I would suggest to you that as we think about the implications of what Jesus is saying it is if you know what God is like then you should live out your life in terms of what you know about God. Obviously we are not God, and can never fully act as God does, but if we know what God is like then we are called to have this as a part of our life. If God is forgiving we are to forgive others. If God iloves us we are called to love others. If God is a God of grace we are to act gracefuly toward other pasons. If steadfastness in relationship with us, we are to be steadfast in our relationships with others. Ben in Florida


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 08:30:56

Comment

Perhaps the talent is a trust in grace, and the return is in fact guaranteed. Grace produces more grace... Perhaps the 3rd servant does not access the grace in his fear. Perhaps the master is both generous and "reaping where he did not sow". Perhaps all the above is true of the master, but those who receive the talents as grace and invest them are guaranteed more grace. But then again, maybe I haven't a clue.

Q in CT


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 08:43:08

Comment

I'll be supplying at a neighboring church this Sunday, and enjoying the freedom that gives me!

I will lead a bible study on this passage focusing on talents as gifts and ask the church to tell me what talents the church has and is investing, and what talents they are burying. (I'll also ask them to reflect on their personal talents they are burying and investing.)

I haven't decided on my sermon yet. I *love* the idea about the 3rd slave simply not doing, and all the things we simply don't go out of our way to do. Also, I'm considering trying to tye in the Five Talents micro-loan program somehow into the sermon. We can invest relatively small amounts of money in this program and they loan it to folks in poor countries to start their own businesses and become self-sufficient. It's pretty nifty.

Mamma Helen+


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 08:48:27

Comment

Just a thought. Can we see ourselves in all three slaves in this parable. Sometimes we gladly give of our many talents to God, somethings we give some of our talents, and sometimes we fail. This gets us around the overt "chastizing" of people in church. My initial plan would be to invite people to see times in their life when they have been each of the people in this parable. Evaluate and celebrate their successes, admit their weaknesses and see how they might move forward from here. Needs a lot of work yet, but it's a start

KN in Ontario


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 10:58:56

Comment

One of the real difficulties I have is whether or not I see correctly. I have a very wonderful parish. That is the people are great. However, there seems to be little commitment and involvement. The only time people really see each other is Sunday morning. People can go to church here for a long time and never be known. We are a small congregation of a little over 300 people. The only active small group is the choir. The other groups meet very infrequently. The commitment of resources - time, talent, and treasure remains low.

I never know how to respond to this, for I am not sure that what I see is within me or within them. If it is within me then I am like the one talented man unable to risk more of myself; but if what I see is truly in my congregation then I am fearful to call them to accountability and conversion.

How do we move, ourselves, away from fear into faith?

tom in ga


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 11:39:08

Comment

We invest in that which we believe is important. The landowner invested in his slaves, the slaves in turn invested in the landowner. Both took risks, and only the ones who took the risk of investment gained anything (I have a hard time with the oxymoron "earning interest"). Is it not a way of denying God's gift to us to bury our talent for preservation?

Sally


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 11:40:54

Comment

KN in Ontario writes: 'Can we see ourselves in all three slaves in this parable. Sometimes we gladly give of our many talents to God, somethings we give some of our talents, and sometimes we fail.'

I think you're on to something here. Those times when I've not "invested my talent," when I've lived fearful and mistrustful of God - then I have been in an outer darkness. I brought it on myself - I moved away from the God who calls me, loves me, enables me, frees me and leads me. I chose instead to live in an outer darkness ruled by my own fear, selfishness, control, manipulation; drowning in the worries and situtions of the day. That horried judgement - was my choice - I led myself there!

God's grace - I didn't have to stay there. I can choose this day and everyday to live with Him or apart from Him!

So - without grumbling - It's time to get back to work(investing).... Mitcavis


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 12:00:09

Comment

I think we have many people who do not recognize their gifts or take themselves seriously. How many of our folks are 'George Bailey' in It's A Wonderful Life? One elderly (80)lady at church has a gift of hospitality. She invites newcomers to go out to lunch with her. She visits the old folks in the assisted living apartments, nursing home and shut-in their own homes regularly. I told her that she has a gift of hospitality. She was astonished to find out that this was a gift. I heard telling the other ladies in the kitchen, "Pastor Sue says that I have the gift of hospitality." with obvious pride. The others agreed with me and added stories of her hospitality. We need not shame anyone in our sermons. Shame is a poor motivator and leads to resentment. When we listen to people's stories we can help them identify their gifts and encourage them to continue or try new things. We are leaving the parish of 4 churches next week, people in the parish are taking jobs to continue the work in the parish after we leave. I commend them all for their willingness to help. Maybe we need to focus on the two servants who were successful. Sue in Cuba, KS (soon to be in Ohio)


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 12:09:21

Comment

From Fear to Faith! I like that for a title - thanks, Tom; can I use it?

A woman in our lectionary group gave the name of a book whose subtitle is "Redeeming our image of God." I'm going to explore that and its cousin statement (from me, not the book) "Redeeming our image of ourselves." The third man recognized neither the gift nor the giver but kept the status quo (so to speak), whereas the first two risked the status quo.

Don't we often let someone else lead, because "someone else has more talent/dedication/intelligence." Bears exploring which we're really afraid of: failure or success?

It puts me in mind of that funny little paragraph about people named Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody - A job needed to be done and Anybody could have done it but it was Somebody's job. Somebody should have done it but ... and as usual Nobody did it. Does anyone have a copy of it?

Oh, and one more thing that comes from lectionary group - a neat quote from a book on preaching that someone read: "the great preacher is the people in the pews." Gee, if I used that for a title, it would look good on our marquee, with my name under it -- "The Great Preacher -- Rev. Sally ***" hahaha

Sally - thinking out loud, sort of


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 12:23:37

Comment

Concerning the previous talk about reconciling a loving God to a harsh master: It helped me to read Carolyn Brown in "Forbid them Not." She said, "The master in the story is not like God... If the first two servants of a harsh master were willing to risk losing their master's money by investing it, we, who are servants of a loving God, can surely take risks to invest the resources God has entrusted us." My loving parents simple question, not matter the task, was, "Did you try?" Jim H in SC


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 12:50:36

Comment

Sally,

You bet you may use it ... I don't own these thoughts for whatever they are worth! Go luck! I will be interested in your final product!

tom in ga


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 15:19:39

Comment

The Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Churc has posted an Advent study on the website that includes this week and next weeks lectionary readings. You may want to check it out. http://www.wisconsinumc.org If you look on the right hand side of the page in column one you will see it listed. Nancy-Wi


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 15:22:23

Comment

In regards to the above. Look in the left hand column!!!!! Sorry I am left handed and still get my sides mixed up! Nancy-Wi


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 15:27:20

Comment

"each was given according to his ability" That phrase really jumps out. That means that each had the ability to take the risk of losing the money. Haven't read all the post yet. My thanks to you all. Nancy-Wi


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 19:40:57

Comment

The thing I find interesting is the AMOUNT of money given by the land owner... the NRSV Oxford annotated states that a talent was equal to more than 15 years wages. For a entry level preacher in our conference... that's 24,000 a year multiplied by 15 is $360,000.00. 2 talents would be $720,000.00 and 5 talens would be, well, you do the math... that is a LOT OF MONEY!

I think I'd bury it in a mason jar in the backyard... wouldn't want to take the risk with someone else's money like that...

pulpitt in ND


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 19:45:39

Comment

Off the subject...

ND voted for THE LOTTERY on November 5, 2002. I opened a bank account on November 6 with $20... so I don't have to go every day. Funny, but you can't start a "Savings Account" at my bank for less than $200.00. HOWEVER, you CAN open a "FREE CHECKING" account for $20, maybe even less than that. What does that say about our society?

A friend of mine, now retired, Rev. Rod Gist started an account similarly when the lottery passed in SD in 1982.

I wrote and asked him about it... he wrote the following...

"The lottery began in S. D. in 1982 (or 1981 - I can't remember which.) It began on Sept. 1 of that year; and I went to the bank and said, 'I'll put a dollar a day in this bank for as long as there is a lottery, and I'll bet that after three years I will have more money than any of you who puts $1.00 a day into the lottery.' There were no takers!

"At the end of two years and eight months, I went to the local paper and asked to get my name in the paper - and picture. It was the custom when anyone won $500 in the lottery to put their name in the paper. Since I now had $1,000, I said I thought that since I had put my lottery money in the bank and it now totaled just over $1,000 that I should have my name in the paper as a winner. I was turned down. Their rationale, as one of them put it, was - 'Well, of course, any idiot can win a thousand dollars that way!' I thanked them and said they had said it better than I would have been able to.

"In 1991, I cashed in my 'lottery tickets,' and bought a ticket to the World Methodist Conference in Singapore. It was a bit short, but not much.

"According to the American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, the USA spent $38.3 billion on lottery tickets in the year 2000. The state with the biggest per capita expenditure was Rhode Island, with $823.16 per person. Guess who was 2nd? South Dakota, with $774.73 per capita.

"That means that somebody had to spend $1,549.46, because I didn't spend a thing. Assuming that I have saved $774 a year since 1982 by NOT buying lottery tickets, my total 'winnings' by now would be $15,480. Of course, any idiot could have done that also. Another idiot could have spent it all for lottery tickets and not have a penny to show for it.

"So I guess you can choose which idiot you'd prefer to be. I have gone to the World Methodist Conference three times now: Singapore in 1991, Rio de Janeiro in 1996, and Brighton, England in 2001. What I won by not buying lottery tickets took me to all three places."

Food for thought,

pulpitt in ND


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 21:10:42

Comment

There are a number of people who think that Christianity is a religion about not doing anything - not having any fun. Taking your salvation and burying it in your back yard so you don't lose it.

How do you open them up to the true adventure of a living relationship that grows as one fully participates in it?

blessings, rachel


Date: 13 Nov 2002
Time: 22:27:38

Comment

The talents are exaggerated for how large they are. Perhaps they do represent grace. I am not sure how much grace I have received in my life. I think I do bury most of my awareness of grace in the ground of my unconsciousness. Therefore I do not multiply it, or it is not multiplied. I'm afraid of digging up grace, because, I think, I would have to give up my own self-righteousness, which, as an elder brother, is pretty familiar to me. I'm a crappy forgiver, and not so great on compassion either (though I'm very moral). I'm afraid of grace. It just seems that if grace abounds, sin will abound that much more. I truly think I'm afraid to come to terms with how much grace I live by and how much I am to truly believe of others; "but by the grace of God go I." I have defenses to grace. I would prefer to live by personal merit. I'm not afraid of working hard, I'm afraid of grace. Perhaps the fear to live by grace creates its own darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth, which is great for dentists. Brent in Pincher


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 06:25:44

Comment

I am just putting some things together for worship Sunday -- actually early for me! Trying to balance a small congregation with a full time job with two components can be more than stressful. However, last Sunday I taught an adult class using this text. If any of you have access to J. Ellsworth Kalas' book "Parables from the Backside", he deals with this text in lesson #3 calling it something about the timid servant. He talks about the servant who returns everything as being timid, like an underdog. If any of you are interested in more of this, I can add more later tonight. I have only scanned a few messages this week, so I apologize if this is duplication.


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 06:28:18

Comment

Sorry about the Kalas info not being signed! I'm SK in IA


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 06:29:02

Comment

Regarding the connection with the Judges passage, there is a very simple connection: Deborah as an example of someone who used her talents as judge and leader.

DGinNYC


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 08:14:20

Comment

I am finding that the hardest part of preaching on this is not putting it into a simple equation of "this is what it means" I mean - what are the talents: are they money, talent, spiritual gifts, our lives, our faith, the gospel message - all of the above What is the nature of the master as it reflects God: generous, harsh, judgmental, encouraging And having read some articles "deconstructing" this parable today which suggested that we like to read this parable with the eyes of a capitalistic nation which embraces the work ethic. Instead the suggestion was that the one talent guy was actually doing the "right" thing in not oppressing others and taking a piece of their pie. I can get very confused and do not want to either over simplify a profound parable or over analyze and leave people dazed. At this point I think I am going to emphasize risk vs. fear and the hard truth of our accountability in the face of the largeness of the gift (test?) of the talents (???) we have been given. RevMarg


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 08:24:41

Comment

I think this parable is about faith ....

With apologies to John Bell and Graham Maule

Peter Jesus ?

Jesus Yes Peter ?

Peter I’ve been doing some more thinking

Jesus This sounds dangerous. Go on Peter

Peter It’s about that story you told the other day. The one about the king going away and giving his servants some money to use.

Jesus What about the story Peter. Weren’t you happy with it ?

Peter Well, it’s not just a story is it ? You were using it to say something about God.

Jesus Yes, that’s the general idea.

Peter Well, I didn’t really like what I was hearing. You seemed to be saying that the people God rewards are the ones with a bit of business sense, or the ones who work hard to make something of themselves. I don’t like the idea that it’s the clever people who get God’s rewards, or the people who have a bit of education. And that poor bloke at the end. He didn’t do anything to deserve his punishment did he ?

Jesus Did I say they were clever, Peter. Did I say that they were educated ? Did I say that they worked hard ?

Peter No, not exactly, but I assumed that it was something like that.

Jesus Perhaps they were just lucky. What do you think of that idea Peter ?

Peter But I thought you didn’t believe in luck.

Jesus No, sorry, Peter that wasn’t fair of me to throw that in. But seriously, how well do you think you know me Peter ?

Peter Is that a trick question too ? Go on, I’ll tell you anyway. I think I know you quite well.

Jesus What sort of answer is that! Alright, do you think I’m the kind of person that believes that what counts with God is brains, or education, or luck, or hard work even ?

Peter Up until now I would have said ‘No’ to that.

Jesus And what do you base that view on ?

Peter Well, you called me, didn’t you!

Jesus So what do you think God is looking for Peter ?

Peter Faith and obedience I suppose.

Jesus Full marks Peter ! You have been learning

Peter I’ve had a good teacher Jesus.

Jesus OK, enough mutual admiration. Go back to the story I told. Can you see any faith there ... or any unfaith.

Peter Yes ! I can see the unfaith of the last one. Perhaps he thought that what counts with God is brains, or education, and he didn’t think he had enough of what it takes. But all that God wanted him to do was to take a risk.

Jesus Does that remind you of anything Peter ?

Peter Yes it does. That seminar you did on faith, when you said faith was spelt R I S K !

Jesus Well remembered Peter. And can you remember anytime when you have taken a risk with me ?

Peter (laughing) You mean like that time I tried to walked on the water .. and I did ... for a few seconds anyway.

Jesus That’s exactly the time I had in mind. Did you suceed in trusting me Peter ?

Peter Not entirely, no.

Jesus No, because your fears about the wind suddenly overcame your faith.

Peter Yes, I was afraid, you’re right, but I didn’t need to be. And I’ve just remembered the excuse that the third servant gave. He went and hid his money because he was afraid. So it’s about fear as well then, as well as faith.

Jesus Mmmh, that’s a thought, I think I can feel another story coming on. Just give me a moment will you Peter.

Peter Yes, Jesus.

Rev Ev in Bev UK


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 08:36:54

Comment

Greetings to you from Oklahoma Irishman.

I live next to an active U.S. Army base where troops are preparing for war. The ratta-tat of machine gun fire on the east range punctuates sunrise and sunset. Cannonfire shakes the land and the houses. Pictures of children and grandchildren hang awkwardly on the wall. Families are losing husbands, wives, mothers, fathers. The United States of America is going to war to save talents [oil] God hid in the ground.

As the war machine gets oiled for battle, is America going to bury its resources - its gifts - in its war effort, then bury more of its most precious resource - its young men and women - in sand-covered graves? Desert Storm II will dismiss conscience and virtue, and flag-draped caskets will be our abundance again.

My sermon for Sunday? "Squandered Talents". Peace.


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 08:38:19

Comment

Greetings to you from Oklahoma Irishman.

I live next to an active U.S. Army base where troops are preparing for war. The ratta-tat of machine gun fire on the east range punctuates sunrise and sunset. Cannonfire shakes the land and the houses. Pictures of children and grandchildren hang awkwardly on the wall. Families are losing husbands, wives, mothers, fathers. The United States of America is going to war to save talents [oil] God hid in the ground.

As the war machine gets oiled for battle, is America going to bury its resources - its gifts - in its war effort, then bury more of its most precious resource - its young men and women - in sand-covered graves? Desert Storm II will dismiss conscience and virtue, and flag-draped caskets will be our abundance again.

My sermon for Sunday? "Squandered Talents". Peace.


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 09:00:41

Comment

Pulpitt in ND - bingo! I feel the same way - like, with leading my church into a riskier stewardship and discipleship.

Because there was an article on it in the local paper, I bought a copy of Wilkinson's (of Jabez fame) latest. I'm about 2/3 through it, making notes. I can't help but hear this through his ears and be disturbed (from what I've read so far): that our motivation is in earning favor/treasure/heaven rather than it being an outcome of an overflowing cup. He's not that cut-and-dried, and does acknowledge the necessity of a relationship with Christ first, but he skips at the skirt of theological self-interest too close for my comfort. It's also the first book I've read of his, so maybe this has been covered in the previous Jabez books.

Anyways ... in leading my church into taking risks, I can actually gain a nugget of truth from Wilkinson (although he's not perfectly clear on this, seeming to jump around): it's not our money, talent, time, resource, whatever - it's God's. Always has been, always will be. The servant who didn't invest recognized neither the gift nor the giver. I'm trying to, in a fun way, correct folks when they say, "We'll try ..." or "We hope to" into saying, "We will." God has given us everything we need to do his work.

Rambling and multi-tasking on this charge conference day.

Sally


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 09:18:02

Comment

The key, then, is in recognizing not just the gift and the giver, but us as the full recipients of the gift - and participants in the grace.

Sally (still making copying, collating, and stapling)


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 09:59:05

Comment

Rev Ev in Bev UK: I like your story may I use it and give you credit? I think it will be a great starter. Nancy-Wi


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 10:02:52

Comment

MOvie buffs, which were Private Ryans last words. Saw the movie, I forgot does he die. (unhappy ending I do not like! so sometimes I forget). nancy-Wi


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 11:27:01

Comment

Sandra in NJ, Yes, we all rely on that which we did not produce. Too often we center in on the talents and do not even hear those words: "You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? There are some real social justice implications here. Late getting started this week. Thanks for helping to jump start me. lp in CO


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 12:04:38

Comment

Nancy - WI - Private Ryan does not die. Capt. Miller does. He's the one who says "Earn it." Private Ryan in the military cemetery in France standing in front of Capt. Miller's grave asks his wifr, "Did I live a good life?".... Peace to all, Mark in WI


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 13:28:14

Comment

The one talent guy said to the master that he was not going to make an effort to develop his full potential because the master will just take it all anyway! BT in IN


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 14:21:13

Comment

The March/April 1999 issue of "Weavings" is devoted to the topic of Fear. Here are some helpful reflections:

"What is fear? Fear, it strikes me, is closely related to hope. Both are responses to an unknown future.... Hope does not remove that uncertainty, but matches it with the certainty that all unknowns rest in the power of the God who loves us. ... Fear, as the opposite of hope, results from not trusting God and God's love. The way to overcome fear, then, is a renewal of trust, or faith, of confidence in the love of God. My little chant, 'God is my helper,' is not quite so silly after all..." (article "Thoughts from by Roof" by David Rensberger.)

Robert Morris, in his article "Holy Fear and the Wildness of God" talks about the difference between healthy fear, and debilatating (?) fear: "Healthy fear evokes fully awakened attention and calm poise in the presence of realities we cannot control. It cautions us before we dive into ocean breakers, safeguards us on narrow mountain paths... and makes us respectful when approaching the sacred mystery of any person. In healthy fear, what little power we may have is wonderfully concentrated. It is the mother of wisdom and the companion of courage.

"This holy gift of healthy fear isn't the same thing as being afraid, which is almost the opposite: we're agitated, plunged into roiling fantasies that tug us between fight and flight. Dazed, and weakened, we are disempowered. When the angels say, 'Do not be afraid!' it is this disabling state they warn us against.

"Learning the art of life-giving fear may be the only real cure for being afraid.... 'On edge, but not really scared' - that's healthy fear; the inner edge of awe for something other, something real that we cannot control. ... We are designed to train our inborn gift of fear into an ally in living..."

Hope this is helpful to someone. Tom in Ga, I'm going to use your sermon title as well: From Fear to Faith. Thanks all.

DGinNYC


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 14:41:23

Comment

There are times when we are each of these slaves. Yes, including the third. We sometime forget that the church is not a charity but a necessity. A place not to be buried from, or to never change for fear of it dying or getting lost. The risks we are called to do for the kingdom is to grow, and be a place where we can feed people spiritually.

Maybe we could say that the talent is a portion of the kingdom or body of Christ. The first slave faith enabled him to risk the portion he knew to make the body grow as did the second. How much it grew is not the important part. Each was given according to his ability so that is not a question. The last one did not have faith , he sought to hold on to his (portion of the pew/ the old hymn book etc.) he was buried for safety but in the process kill the hope for other and sent him to his death. He gives out of charity not out of the body of Christ. Rambling on. Nancy-Wi.


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 15:25:30

Comment

Could it be that for us, the "talents" are the Good News of Jesus Christ? Could it be that we, baptized Christians, are entrusted with the Good News to a greater or lesser degree? The degree does not matter. What matters is that we double the Good News of Jesus Christ. What matters is that we don't freeze in fear of not proclaiming correctly and just bury our gift! Richard Donovan on SermonWriter.com has some interesting insights into this scripture. lp in CO


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 18:21:19

Comment

I am not a member of the clergy but I use this site as a resource for Sunday School material. I noticed where none of the posts mention John Wesley's Notes on the Bible and his commentary on Matthew 25:14-30. Wesley's comment on verse 14, "a parable...to declare the final reward of a harmless man" and on verse 30, "[s]o mere harmlessness, on which many build their hope of salvation, was the cause of his damnation!" is nothing if not thought-provoking. Who among us think that by simply leading a harmless life, we could still end up in hell? Richard in Tennessee


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 21:22:23

Comment

There is a good story about this parable at http://www.sfcts.org/talents.htm Brent in Pincher


Date: 14 Nov 2002
Time: 22:54:47

Comment

I'm wondering if people can share examples of when people took risks, and either succeeded or failed? Presumably, if the slave with the one talent had of risked it, and lost it, and said, "Master, sorry, I have nothing to give you back because I failed," the Master would have said "Well, done." So... does any have an example of a time when someone risked and failed? One example that comes to my mind is when I was with youth at a camp that had a "burmis" bridge, connecting two poles 70 feet up. A "burmis" bridge is just one cable you walk on and two ropes you hang on to. Some youth could only climb part way up the first tower. They could not go all the way across the bridge. But we celebrated how much fear they faced, and that they did what they could, even though they didn't do the whole thing. I suppose burying their talent, and letting fear rule the day, would have meant they wouldn't have gone up the ladder one step. Do people have examples of people who faced their fears, invested their gifts, and multiplication took place? Just tonight, a woman told me a story of how these older women taught her music when she was a child. She was this poor rag-a-muffin whom these women took under their wing. They are all dead now, but this woman has taught countless children in our community over the years and has been a big part of the music of this community. I wish I had more examples of people who took risks and either succeeded or failed. I also wish I had more examples of people who burried their gifts, or grace, somehow. I think then it would be easier for people to understand the parable. Brent in Pincher


Date: 15 Nov 2002
Time: 01:35:34

Comment

To Nancy-Wi

Yes, by all means use it. I put at the beginning 'with apologies to John Bell and Graham Maule' because I wrote it in the style of theirs - they have written a number of sketches called 'Jesus and Peter' using that format. It's worth checking out their sketches - John Bell and Graham Maule are part of the Iona Community in Scotland. You may have come across some of their music and liturgy - if not it's worth having a look at.

Rev Ev in Bev UK


Date: 15 Nov 2002
Time: 01:43:42

Comment

I use some material that is published here in the UK .. and it says that this parable is all about money and talents and how we use them.

I don't believe it is, in fact I think it's about grace and faith. Some other contributors have talked about the talents as God's grace to us, which I think is right. The three servants respond either with faith or not.

This parable is part of a section that is at least in part to do with the Lord's return. What is God looking for in our lives. The most important thing that he is looking for is a response of faith to his grace. Check out Robert Farrar Capon in his books on the parables.

Rev Ev in Bev UK


Date: 15 Nov 2002
Time: 10:21:07

Comment

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody would have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody, when Nobody did what Anybody could have Sel in Canada


Date: 15 Nov 2002
Time: 11:34:36

Comment

Brent in Pincher, Not sure if this example will help. I took a huge risk eighteen years ago. I have some success and I have some failures! However, as I look back at the failures, they were lessons well taught. I married a man who had custody of his three daughters. I have no children of my own. We raised those children. I was involved in their lives. I made decisions--good ones and poor ones! We laughed, we cried, we sang and gnashed teeth together. It was wonderful and horrible all at the same time. Today...I continue to have a wonderful marriage. I have three daughters--born in my heart--to whom I am very close. I have two wonderful grandsons. One lives in the same city and we are attached at the hip! What if I walked out of the situation? What if I decided not to marry my husband and his then very young family? What if I took this wonderful cleansing, mellowing, softening gift that God gave me and said, "I think I'll just bury this one and move on?" What if??? I have had blessing upon blessing heaped upon my head! lp in CO


Date: 15 Nov 2002
Time: 12:39:53

Comment

lp in CO. That's a wonderful story. Thanks so much for sharing it. I think it is a very good good-news story. I may use it on Sunday - thanks. I also want to share a joke, I remembered, that fits this parable. It is in the book by Harold Warlick called "The Rarest of These is Hope." The story is told of a stranger who stopped for a drink of water at a farmhouse. He wanted to be sociable to the old barefooted farmer on the porch of the tumbledown shack. So he said, "How is your cotton coming?" "Ain't got none. Afraid of boll weevils," said the farmer. "How is your corn?" said the stranger. "Didn't plant none. Afraid it wouldn't rain," replied the farmer. "Well, how about your potatoes?" "Ain't got none. Powerful lot of potato bugs in these parts." "Well, what did you plant?" asked the bewildered stranger. "Nothin'," replied the farmer."I'm just playin' it safe." I think it works. I was also thinking of the latest Spiderman movie that has the repeated ethical line in it, which goes something like; "with great giftedness, comes great responsibility." The teen wanted to use his new-found powers to make money to buy a car to impress his girl, but had to keep saying this line his dad told him, so that he would use his gift to do better things. Scott Peck, in the Road Less Travelled, talks about how grace and growth come with responsibility. The more we grow in grace and in awareness, the more responsible we need to be and "must be." Brent in Pincher.


Date: 15 Nov 2002
Time: 15:59:55

Comment

Check out this reference for "with great giftedness comes great responsibility": Luke 12:48b - "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required." That's a little easier to take than our verse for this Sunday: "For to everyone who has will more be given..."

I always think it's good to try to use oneself as an example if possible. I think of my own experience in preaching class in seminary (many years ago!), when I almost dropped out because I kept comparing myself to the other students who were so much better than me. Better to be a minister's wife, than make a fool of myself in the pulpit. I don't know why I stayed, but over the course of 22 years of ministry, I think preaching has become the part of ministry I do best. There will always be preachers who are much better than me. But God is using this skill I developed (or maybe that God developed in me), all the while battling a sense of inadequacy. Whatever it is, it is enough for God's purposes. Comparing ourselves to others is a recipe for doom.

DGinNYC


Date: 15 Nov 2002
Time: 18:41:29

Comment

Brent in Pincher, You are so welcome! And...I may just use your joke. It is great! Thanks and Blessings! lp in CO


Date: 15 Nov 2002
Time: 20:24:20

Comment

Thanks so much for all the good conversation this week! Tonight I was talking to my daughter and son-in-law about where I might connect this parable with the folks in the pews, and he suggested the movie "Finding Forrester." Think I might take another look at that movie tomorrow, but if remember correctly, I think that Forrester hid his talent (gift) for a long time until he met a promising young writer who needed encouragement and a friend. And then he risked....just more food for thought! KO in SC


Date: 15 Nov 2002
Time: 21:42:56

Comment

DGinNYC,

Well said. Thank you.

Michelle


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 03:32:46

Comment

Thanks to everybody for their thoughts on this parable. I'm a lay preacher and will be in a different church from my own tomorrow. It seems to me that the parable is putting one heck of a responsibility on US who are leading worship to make sure we faithfully that gift we have been given - to preach the Gospel, but in a way which reaches and is relevant to our congregations. Difficult when visiting a church whose congregation is not familiar!

AndyB. Birmingham (England!)


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 09:01:09

Comment

Where art thou oh Eric of KS?

No doubt investing thy talents while the rest of us have played this week.

tom in ga


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 09:20:51

Comment

tom in ga

300 person "small" church.....hmmm

what would you call my 30 faithful then?

Just couldn't resist! robin in VT


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 10:57:50

Comment

I just watched the movie "For Richer, For Poorer" staring jack Lemon. This seems to fit the theme also.

Jack Lemon plays a very successful health food store exec. who has a son who lacks motivation to find a job. In desperation, Jack liquidates all his assets and gives all the money to the poor. He tells his wife, he made bad business decisions and is broke. They settle into a small apartment the rented when they were poor and just starting out. The son does not find a job but married a very rich woman. Jack's character finds basic labor jobs and tries deperately to "make it again."

The rest of the movie plays out many sub plots, but in the end the father and his estranged wife go to a rewstuarant and their son is the waiter. The father is angry that he has such a minor job, as the son received a large settlement from his ex that he does not have to work.

The final scene shows the father sitting by the pool, as the son had done so many years before. The father asks his son how it felt to have his father sitting on his butt, doing nothing, while the son was working as a waiter. The son said: "I love it!"

The father used his talents, got scared, hid his talents, then the son came forth using his talents. (So did the mother, who opened a bakery)

Just some last minute thoughts from: A W-G rocky coast Me.


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 12:56:36

Comment

tom in Ga, I had that same feeling as another when you referred to your church as a small membership church of 300! My church has 50 members with about 25-30 in attendance on Sunday. I guess some of us out here are micro-membership churches. I couldn't resist either!! :-) ALSO, YES ERIC! We hope you are wisely using your talents with the People of God...or out on a golf course. We did miss you this week. lp in CO


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 14:10:08

Comment

AndyB. Birmingham (England!) I did supply pulpit for about 6months. Just really on the HOly Spirit and your preaching will be meaningful. It seems like each time the sermon was somehow relavent. Sometimes now I am so close and know them so much better, I think that I step on the Holy Spirit. Go for it. Take a risk (ha! ha!) nancy -wi


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 14:12:29

Comment

Some of you may find this image helpful for next week too. I equated these 2nd coming parable to my first alarm clock's wake up screeching. I am grateful for all the posts each of them give depth and breathe to the passage each week. Nancy-Wi


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 14:27:46

Comment

Thanks, Nancy, for your comment. It is amazing how often one goes into the pulpit unsure of how a sermon will be received and finding that people come to you afterwards thanking you for or questioning some point you've made. A further thought for any late-night sermon writers who, like me, feel that they have only been given one "talent" and that others are far more gifted. We HAVE been given one "talent". I don't know how it equates in dollars, but in England that means that God has given us a million quids worth of gifts: enough for a lifetime (and a reasonable pension) AND enough to spare for other people and to risk a bit in HIs service.

ANdyB. (Brum, England).


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 17:10:29

Comment

It looks like I'll be preaching the less-travelled road tomorrow. I find this parable to be disturbing for many reasons, not the least of which to be how quickly we fit God and our own view of economics onto the parts of the Master and the 5 and 2 talent slaves. Drawing from the work of Denis McBride (The Parables of Jesus), and Barbara Reid (Parables for Preachers, Year a) as well as my own economic/business background, I come at this parable very differently than many.

In the first century, these favored slaves doubled their master's money by charging incredibly high interest on loans to small landowners, forclosing on their property when they were unable to repay, and following their own master's business practices of "reaping where they did not sow and gathering where they did not scatter" - that is, stealing and cheating. When they return their master's funds, the master asks them to "share in my joy" and promises to put them in charge of larger stuff. Do we really want to cast God in the part of the Master and favored disciples in the parts of slaves who knowingly emulate their corrupt owner?

Most often we excuse the business practices. We laud the risks taken and thank the master for the gracious generosity in sharing in the bounty with the slaves who have used the talents to grow the master's wealth. In fact, the parable doesn't mention any sharing - only continued slavery and more responsibility.

The one-talent slave,on the other hand, chose not to steal or cheat the small land-owners. When he confronted the master, the master did not deny his business practices, and threw him out - "into the dark-where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth!" In the week following, Jesus himself continued to stand up to the powers that be (powers that were?) He too, in their mind, was thrown into the dark, taken to crucifixion. Perhaps the one-talent slave was in good company.

The economics of the parable are seductive. The sound bites are pithy. But isn't "for all those who have,more will be given..." really just "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?" Is this really the message of the Jesus we know in the rest of the Gospel?

I expect some conversation from my small (40) congregation. We're going to lunch after worship, it should be agood discussion!

God bless whatever you preach!

skm in ca


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 17:57:03

Comment

Friends: It's late, but I have a illustration for this sermon. At one of the parishes I served in upstate NY, one of the retired members took great care of the local cemetery. He told me once about a man who had a Stradivarius violin (priceless) which he loved, and his dying wish was to have it buried with him. As a violinist myself, I was horrified! So one day in a sermon I shared this brief story and then I asked the people "You who live near this cemetery, in the middle of the night do you hear music wafting out of the graveyard?" It's pretty obvious that something that's buried has no use whatsoever and is as good as if it never existed. (I have been tempted to dig up this grave, yes!) mhc in pa


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 18:03:48

Comment

Rev Ev in Bev UK

You're words were wonderful! Thanks... it's all about RISKING our talents to make the world a better place in which to live, and serve and have our being.

Thanks for this "late" insight!

It will preach in Fargo! ;?)

pulpitt in ND


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 18:06:22

Comment

Sally said,

The servant who didn't invest recognized neither the gift nor the giver. I'm trying to, in a fun way, correct folks when they say, "We'll try ..." or "We hope to" into saying, "We will." God has given us everything we need to do his work.

I like that! Thanks!

pulpitt in ND


Date: 16 Nov 2002
Time: 20:57:58

Comment

The parable doesn't say God is like the master. Unlike most parables it doesn't even say "the Kingdom of God is like this..." Maybe like most parables it is the way we read them or answer them reveals our heart. I think it is telling that we would assume God is more like a rich (unethical?)master than a poor (discriminated against) slave. ...Nigel in Melbourne


Date: 18 Nov 2002
Time: 07:57:57

Comment

I don't know if anyone else does this, but occasionally I come back and see where the convewrsation has ended up.

Thanks to skm in ca for a new slant on this parable. Your view of it challenges the ways I have always taken it, but it has given me food for thought. Thanks

Rev Ev in Bev UK


Date: 23 Nov 2002
Time: 23:09:16

Comment

I see it like this. Everything is a matter of perception. If you believe you are blessed no matter how little you have you will recieve more. While on the other side if you believe you aren't blessed then all of what you have will be taken away. -Lee


Date: 6/10/2003
Time: 9:40:20 AM

Comment

acknowing god given talents


Date: 7/25/2003
Time: 1:36:11 PM

Comment

Use the Talents you have in you life to help God and others around you. SGT. Ward, D. Alpha Company Hargrave Military Academy


Date: 9/14/2004
Time: 6:34:35 AM

Comment

I am trying to rersearch the parable of the talents. And I too like Rev. Marg I'm trying to figure out what the talents in reference to? I thought it was spiritual gifts, and then I thought it was whatever a person is good at doing. As for the man who done nothing with his talent, I need for God to give me clear understanding of that passage of scripture. I've asked God for revelation on this. Minister M. E. in Ohio