Date:
22 Oct 1999
Time:
01:42:58

Comment

I once heard of a sermon preached on this text that was very powerful and effective. Unfortunately, I can not give credit where credit is due because I only heard of the sermon second hand, but it sounds like a great idea.

The minister preached a sermon about using our gifts to magnify the glory of God. He then passed an envelope to every person in the congregation with the words, "this envelope contains a talent. Now, each of you take your talent, invest it, use it, enlarge it, whatever God calls you to do. In one month, return the talent and any profit it has earned to the church." The congregation took the envelopes home and found that each contained a $20.00 bill.

Some simply deposited the money in a bank and returned the few pennies interest along with the original $20. Yet, many took seriously the challenge. They used it to buy materials to make craft items for sale, they purchased items at discount and re-sold them at profit, and the like. Since every person got an envelope, families had larger ammounts of money. Many of them pooled their resources and made family projects out of it. In the end, the returns were far greater than the initial cash outlay and the money was placed in the church's mission fund.

I have not tried this myself, but if one was interested, this may be a powerful sermon!


Date: 03 Nov 1999
Time: 09:54:49

Comment

Interesting idea, handing out $20 bills. But who's going to take the initiative of coughing up the $20's for the entire congregation? I have a congregation of some 30 people, mostly retired, and they wouldn't take kindly the idea of withdrawing $600 from the church budget.

I wonder if this story is true, or if it's "urban myth."

Jay in Alabama


Date: 03 Nov 1999
Time: 10:00:20

Comment

Is "the master" a symbol for God, or for the disciples, or for the Pharisees? This is a private discourse with the disciples (Mt. 24:3) and not a harangue with those who were trying to bait him-- the target in the last few weeks' readings.

I would think it important to emphasize in the sermon that this was a private chat with the disciples.

Jay in Alabama


Date: 03 Nov 1999
Time: 15:40:46

Comment

I found the comentary in a recient edition of "Christian Century" to be worthwhile. (The magazine is at home and I am at the office so please forgive me for not giving due credit where credit is due, I can't remember the author's name.)

This commentator related the issue of extravagent gifts. The value of the money given to the servants was equal to several years worth of a workers annual wages. The master was a fool, by pragmatic standards, to entrust such a precious holding to his servants.

Yet, as Jay pointed out, Jesus was involved in a private conversation with his disciples. Could he be telling them that he is going away and will be entrusting them with an extremely valuable holding--the ministry of the Gospel.

The pragmatists would argue that trusting humanity with the work of God was foolish. Jesus would have been much more effective if he had stayed longer or returned "in all his glory" much sooner. Yet God has given you and I a precious holding with the expectation that we will invest, multiply, and expand. That holding is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Any thoughts? This is the first time I have ever looked at this text outside of the limited context of money. I would appreciate more contributions.

DWR


Date: 03 Nov 1999
Time: 16:25:17

Comment

Stumbling my way through the text and various commentaries, I found myself looking at the next pericope (for 11/21) as well. We have here the master going and returning, but what do we make of the connection with next week's Gospel? Is it a separate unit, or does it expound on the parable by paralleling the master with the Son of Man?

Or, am I reaching for a connection that doesn't exist? I see a connection between the master and Son of Man, the faithful servants stewardship and the faithful servants who tended when hungry/naked/sick/etc, and the unfaithful (lazy) servant and those who did not tend to the hungry/naked/etc. And, of course, the rewards and punishment in the conclusion of both pericopes.

Art in VA


Date: 03 Nov 1999
Time: 16:43:31

Comment

Art,

You are onto something here. Could it be that Jesus was telling the disciples that the best way to invest their talents was in the least of these. In both cases the one(s) who did not fullfill the expectation were punished.

I think it would do justice to both texts to say that 25:31-46 could serve as the practical example of how to invest the talents of 25:14-30.

Waddayathink?

DWR


Date: 04 Nov 1999
Time: 03:05:57

Comment

J. Ellsworth Kalas has a terrific book called PARABLES FROM THE BACKSIDE. This lection is one parable he writes about. He tells an old fable about one farmer who asks another farmer, "What are you going to plant this spring, Jake? ...Corn?" And Jake replies, "Nope, scared of the corn borer." So he asks, "What about potatoes?" "Nope, too much danger of potato bugs." "Well then, what are you going to plant?" And Jake answers, "Nothing. I'm going to play it safe."

Also in his book he got me thinking how it is an oversimplification to talk about each of us having talents (abilities) simply because the monetary value used is called a talent. We have all received the great gift of life, a generous free gift with only one chance to enjoy it.

KG in GA


Date: 04 Nov 1999
Time: 03:49:27

Comment

KG in GA,

Good point. It may be more than an oversimplification, it may be a full blown abuse of the text! Talents as abilities preaches a good sermon, but the text offers so much more!

What I am struggling with here is a good illustration for the sermon. Any thoughts, suggestions? I like the farming one and may use that. I am working with a congregation who is tired and has labored for the church many years. They want (and deserve) to have somebody take and invest their talents, but there's no one out there to do it. Any thoughts?

DWR


Date: 04 Nov 1999
Time: 05:09:18

Comment

Think it is interesting that both of the first slaves got exactly the same reward--well done- and a promise of more. Does this mean God does not expect us to do what someone else can do, only do what we have been given the gifts for? Glad in Il


Date: 04 Nov 1999
Time: 05:15:45

Comment

Why was the one with the least to risk, so afraid of the master here? Glad in Il


Date: 04 Nov 1999
Time: 14:52:17

Comment

Glad in Il, You pose a challenging question.

Please bear with me while a speculate on an answer. (This is off the top, so take it for what it's worth).

Often church members feel intimitated because someone else appears to be so much more gifted, able, or involved. "Oh, I could never be as dedicated as Jane. She's got such a spirit-filled gift for _________________ ." Fill in the blank for whatever ministry is in question.

Unfortunately, that becomes an excuse or cop-out for not exploring and fulfilling one's own contribution to the ministry of the Gospel.

The problem I have with this answer is reconciling it with verse 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." It tends to poke holes in this answer.

Just my "off the top" resonse to your question. Any other thoughts?

DWR


Date: 04 Nov 1999
Time: 17:45:12

Comment

KG in GA,

Can you provide more specific information about the Kalas' book? I tried to find it, but only found OLD TESTAMENT STORIES FROM THE BACKSIDE and THE TEN COMMANDMENTS FROM THE BACK SIDE. Is the story in one of these? I would like to use it as part of my homily.

Thanks,

jg in nc


Date: 04 Nov 1999
Time: 18:10:50

Comment

Jay,

When I was a Director of Christian Education, the church in which I worked gave each member $5 (200 members -- $ taken from church budget) with the instructions to use their talents to multiply the gift. Two weeks later the proceeds of the symbolic talents were presented during the worship service. The pastor wrote a special liturgy and hymn (to the tune of Ode to Joy). If anyone is interested, I would be happy to email the words to you.

The stories of how the initial $5 was used were very interesting. One young girl (who liked to cook) used it to buy ingredients to make noodles which she then sold. Many who participated not only discovered talents they weren't aware they had -- they also discovered how their "seemingly insignificant" talent could produce fruit. In the end the amount of the return wasn't important -- it was the good feeling in that they "acted." It was a positive experience.

MBC


Date: 04 Nov 1999
Time: 18:26:10

Comment

DWR

Good reflection! I like your linkage of the two pericopes as well. I wish I had the luxury of preaching both weeks, but the senior pastor has the 21st. Of course, he's on vacation, so the vicar might just take that route anyway <grin>.

We are voting on 11/21 for a major loan to expand our building (new fellowship hal/gym and 6 classrooms--we have no space to add more SCS classes!). I am VERY hesitant to take the text forward as a "stewardship sermon," but am trying to bring a new set of eyes to the text. Like you, illustrations are a bit thin. will share what I end up with, though!

Art in VA


Date: 05 Nov 1999
Time: 11:23:17

Comment

I am trying to connect with the fear of the servant being entrusted with so much all at once. I am talking about the way in which if we have a lot (of anything) one of our big concerns is how to protect it. Security systems etc. How do we trust that what God has given us God will protect? It seems to me to be a question of living with abundance - a problem for many in my congregation.


Date: 05 Nov 1999
Time: 14:27:49

Comment

To DWR and Glad in IL I heard a story, probably a Jewish folktale, that goes something like this: One night Eleazar had a vision that God was in the room with him and asked, "Eleasar, why aren't you a Moses?" to which he replied, "God, I could never be Moses. He was a man of great endurance with a background in the royal affairs of Egypt. Your people are no longer in Egypt, what good would that be?" The next night God returned and asked "Why aren't you a David?" Eleasar replied " Lord, I could not be David. He was a man with the gift of music and I have a scratchy voice and no background in instruments. David was a great military strategizer and I can barely figure out my routine for the day. I could never be David." The next night God again came to Eliazar. This time Eliazar cried out "Lord, I cannot be Moses or David. I've tried and failed." Then the Lord, out of the Great Silence asked, "Eliazar, why aren't you Eliazar?"

The story has probably changed much from the original but it does make us stop and think about our purpose in God's plan and our wandering off trying to be something else and failing. Our wisest (remember the wise & foolish virgins?) investment would be for the purposes for which we are created. Fisherfolk in OH


Date: 06 Nov 1999
Time: 20:40:05

Comment

I like the idea of the talents representing the gospel and the grace of God, which DWR referred to on Nov. 3.. It helps to explain the reward that the servant received who felt the master was to be feared and therefore hid the talent in the ground. What doesn't seem to follow, however, is the 5-3-1 amounts. Can one person receive more of the grace of God than another? Or perhaps it might refer to the knowledge of the gospel? But how might that relate to "according to each one's ability"? Hmmmm. Anybody have any ideas? I didn't see the article in Christian Century, but would be interested to know if the author deals with these inconsistencies. DEK


Date: 06 Nov 1999
Time: 22:53:44

Comment

KG in GA,

I found PARABLES FROM THE BACK SIDE.

Thanks,

jg in nc


Date: 07 Nov 1999
Time: 00:30:35

Comment

My current line of thinking involves forgetting about money and centering on the meaning behind the message, which I see to be "risk taking".

Each of us is endowed (dare I say entrusted) with a differing set of gifts, which the Eleasar story exemplifies better than can I. Each of us is charged (dare I say challenged) to use those gifts to the greater glory of God, for the elimination of human suffering and misery on the one hand, and the spreading of God's love on the other.

How we choose to reach out in risk with our entitlements is an exemplar of the levels of our faith, trust and confidence in God. The Nun of Calcutta stands on one end of the spectrum of risk, opening herself totally in the name of God to others. Perhaps I am nearer the other end of the spectrum, unable (dare I say unwilling) to open myself to such risk -- preferring to "play it safe".

It's not about the quantity of talents, or even the quality of talent, but how we respond with what we have been entrusted. The story of the widow's mite seems to make a good adjunct to this story, or more pointedly, the story of the hen and pig asked to make a "donation" for the rural church's country breakfast.

I am reminded of the adage about attendance at church -- those of faith come not to church to get (what message will I hear, how will I be inspired today?), but rather to give (how can I by my presence touch the lives of others today?).

Perhaps this is a time for me to remember the words of the Psalmist -- "the earth is the Lord's, and everything that therein is"! It was not mine in the beginning, is not mine now, and never will be mine!

Peace to all,

Jim


Date: 07 Nov 1999
Time: 00:32:00

Comment

My current line of thinking involves forgetting about money and centering on the meaning behind the message, which I see to be "risk taking".

Each of us is endowed (dare I say entrusted) with a differing set of gifts, which the Eleasar story exemplifies better than can I. Each of us is charged (dare I say challenged) to use those gifts to the greater glory of God, for the elimination of human suffering and misery on the one hand, and the spreading of God's love on the other.

How we choose to reach out in risk with our entitlements is an exemplar of the levels of our faith, trust and confidence in God. The Nun of Calcutta stands on one end of the spectrum of risk, opening herself totally in the name of God to others. Perhaps I am nearer the other end of the spectrum, unable (dare I say unwilling) to open myself to such risk -- preferring to "play it safe".

It's not about the quantity of talents, or even the quality of talent, but how we respond with what we have been entrusted. The story of the widow's mite seems to make a good adjunct to this story, or more pointedly, the story of the hen and pig asked to make a "donation" for the rural church's country breakfast.

I am reminded of the adage about attendance at church -- those of faith come not to church to get (what message will I hear, how will I be inspired today?), but rather to give (how can I by my presence touch the lives of others today?).

Perhaps this is a time for me to remember the words of the Psalmist -- "the earth is the Lord's, and everything that therein is"! It was not mine in the beginning, is not mine now, and never will be mine!

Peace to all,

Jim


Date: 07 Nov 1999
Time: 09:48:47

Comment

7.37pm 7.11.99 DEK I was thinking about your question about one person recieving 5 talents, one 3 and the last 1. And your connection with God's grace and your question about how can we receive different amounts of God's grace. Maybe it is our differing awareness of God's grace? Maybe it is our differing acceptance of God's grace. This is my first time responding to the dialogue. I have really been inspired by peoples ideas and thoughts. Thankyou. Rev from Down Under.


Date: 07 Nov 1999
Time: 21:36:34

Comment

O, it is amazing how we act in relation to the way we think about God.

If we have a view of God as harsh and mean, we will take our one talent and hid it, keep it safe in the ground. And when God comes to me later and asks where it is ... yes, as I expected he will be harsh and judgmental.

But if I have a view of God as generous and gracious, I will take my two or five talents and use them well, and when he returns ... yes, as I expected he will be generous and gracious.

How do we move from on image of God to another, what risks must we take in our lives to let go of one image and to embrace the other?

tom in ga


Date: 07 Nov 1999
Time: 23:54:11

Comment

DATE: November 7, 1999

TIME: 6:30p.m.

COMMENT:

I just found this site while already starting to prepare for next Sunday's sermon. I am glad to read so many views about each Sunday's scripture reading.

As for as the parable of the many talents, I must say that I have limited my outlook on the parable and what it has been trying to say to me for so many years now.

I would like to comment on the story and ideas from others about the giving the $20 in order for the money to grow and benefit the church. I never heard the story as a whole church doing this challenage but I have experienced a Sunday School teacher within my church that gave a $5 bill to each one of his Sunday School students. I must say the talents given them was a real spark in getting the whole class to dig deep and find ways of helping the church. I must say it helped more than just in a money sense. It really opened up the minds and creative to those students. It proved that many things can be accomplished if we are willing to take the risk.

This alone can exalt the name of Jesus. This alone can show us all how God will and can be a faithful servant of God.

I have yet to deal with the idea of God taking away from us the one talent that we each possess. Please help me see God's idea behind this. I still live and preach that God will find a way for all of us to find a way to use our talents as long as we each keep the faith and keep our lives devoted to God's desire.

Doug in Indiana


Date: 07 Nov 1999
Time: 23:59:45

Comment

Hi everyone, This is the first time I've posted on this site... but I've been lurking since I stumbled across it 2 months ago. Belated thanks for your contributions.

I wanted to share a resource you might find helpful, certainly stimulating. Check out http://www.theotherside.org/archive/may-jun99/myers.html

It's an article from Ched Myers on parables in general, and the second page has a fairly radical interpretation of this parable from a justice point of view. (Hey, it's Ched, what do you expect?) Radical, and different to many, but he argues a reasonably convincing case. My only sticking point at this stage of working through it is Ched's claim that "there is no indication that this is a kingdom parable (25:14)."

Illustrations: It's time for the big banks to report profits here in Australia (Our banking system is very different to the US - it's dominated by 4 mega national banks, with a larger number of smaller generally regional banks. The 4 majors have about 75% of our banking...) Anyway, they've all been reporting profits of 2billion upwards, even as the service continues to drop, and interest rates have just gone up 1/4%

The other bit of interest is a minor story going on in one of our popular talk-back radio shows in Melbourne. About two years ago pawn-shops were de-regulated, and the interest rate, which was capped at 48%pa has skyrocketed. Now it's a minimum of 360% pa, and it's been reported as high as 1600% at some places. Bearing in mind that pawnshops are predominantly used by those desperate, and poor, and Ched's analysis starts to make a lot of sense.

I'd be interested in other people's opinions on his paper.

Regards, L. Whiteside - Student minister, Melb. Australia


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 01:20:05

Comment

Does anyone remember a book of chancel dramas that were short and witty, published about thirty years ago? The first play is about Adam and Eve and another is about a cobbler. It's a book I had on my shelf at one time, but I can't remember the title or the author. I was planning to use it in Advent. Thanks.

Gene Powell Baker (OldMrGrace)


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 14:27:01

Comment

The parable seems to adress the attitude of wreckless protecting. Wrestless protecting is based in fear, fear of God and fear of life. It sees the world from a point of scarcity. It thinks of talents not as gifts but as possessions to be protected. It responds by witholding, burying, losing, and weeping.

The contrasting attitude is one of faith. It receives, invests, and returns that which was a gift. The result is more growth and more gifts.

Surely the early church was tempted to hide, bury, and withold much of what had been left (invested) in them. Some disciples, some churches were more fruitful than others. The key was not so much how much was originally invested in them, but their attitude with what had been invested in them.

Our attitudes toward time, money, talents, energy, influence or any other gift of power can be seen in the way we invest that power or attempt to protect the power.

There just seems to be a basic law in life that those who feel they have little, invest little and protect much. They end up losing. Those who feel they have much, are grateful and invest much, and gain much more. You can tell the difference between the investors and the protectors: you will know them by their fruits.

Fred in LA


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 15:17:54

Comment

My church worked hard to build a new addition, a large hall to house dinners and other activities. It should have become the center of activities for our entire small town. Unfortunately, the members got the idea this was "our hall" and instituted very high fees and policies for "outsiders" to use the building. At one meeting church leaders said, "Someone might trip and get hurt and sue us." Another said, "What if someone damages the building?" One said, "We worked hard to build this structure, and others need to pay us good to use it!" (Sounds like the third slave, "I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.")

People simply forgot this was a "talent" given to us from God, and was not ours, but God's. God gave us the building addition to do a better job of inviting people in and leading people to Jesus Christ. By excluding outsiders, we were burying our "talent" and one day would have to pay the price. One price we paid was the image of being an exclusive "club," where one had to become a member to use the facilities. Amother price we paid was an image of exclusive, arrogant, egotistical, hypocrites who spoke of God's love but were, in fact, quite selfish.

I take the passage quite literally. If we fail to invest the things which God has given us, we will one day pay a price. revup


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 15:41:35

Comment

From Walt in Mo. I am looking at this a bit different. I thought I read some one make a statement that this didn't sound like Jesus. I went back and could not find it, so I guess I read something into some other statement. Perhaps how to deal with the fact that the one looses everything. Tell me; am I in left field? The talent is not to be associated with money as we normally think of it. The talent was the highest value of money; God gives freely our talent according to our ability. The man with one talent buries it; he buries his life, his future, etc. He doesn't accept the Savior. He does not receive the reward of eternal life. Walt


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 16:07:03

Comment

My dear friends, I strongly recommend that you follow the link offered by L. Whiteside. Ched Meyers offers up a gripping and troubling preview of this powerful parable -- a parable of justice in the midst of exploitation. Ched's argument much more fully realizes the context of the parable within the trilogy. Once again, Jesus calls us to act in the way of love by calling our economic decisions into question. Rev. Whiteside, thank you for sharing this splendid resource.

Shalom, Nail-Bender in NC


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 17:25:04

Comment

Can you say "Radical Paradigm Shift" ?????

That is my first response to the article link suggested above. Rev. Whiteside, you are to be thanked and commended for offering such a provocative and enlightening study of this text. Thank You! Ched Myers and Eric DeBode offer a radically refreshing and dynamically faithful perspecitive on this text, one that addresses many of the troubles we have expressed in these postings.

Of course, Rev. Whiteside, I have to shake a fist at you, because now I feel called to take my whole sermon plan and toss it in light of this new wisdom. Now my week just got longer thanks to you. (Please note the tongue in cheek humor).

The Jubilee theme mentioned in the article is also vital as we approach Jubilee 2000. (Many of our denominations and traditions have embraced this ideal.)

A word of caution though. This is not skim reading. Be prepared to invest some time in this one. It is well worth it!

For those of you who by-passed the link that Rev. Whiteside provided and have since changed your mind, here it is again!

http://www.theotherside.org/archive/may-jun99/myers.html

Thanks again for your offering and the fresh insight. This is the true value of such a website!

God bless!

DWR


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 17:42:11

Comment

[Image] Previous Page

Even more problematic than our sentimentalizing of kingdom parables is the way we misread Jesus' parables about the world, reading them as if they were kingdom parables--with disastrous consequences. The most notorious case is the infamous parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30). [Image] This has been for many an unsettling story. It seems to promote ruthless business practices (v. 20), usury (v. 27), and the cynical view that the rich will only get richer while the poor become destitute (v.29). Moreover, if we assume, as does the traditional reading, that the master is a figure for God, it is a severe portrait indeed: an absentee lord (v. 15) who cares only about profit maximization (v. 21), this character is hardhearted (v. 24) and ruthless (v. 30). [Image] Despite these concerns, this story still routinely occasions countless homilies (usually on stewardship Sunday) about how we Christians should gainfully employ our "talents" for God-- despite the fact that "talent" in the Gospel text has nothing to do with our individual gifts and everything to do with economics. Might it be that we have imposed upon the parable our capitalist presumptions about the glories of a system that rewards "venture capital," and thus read the story exactly backwards? [Image] Our first clue lies in the parable that immediately precedes the story of the talents. A specifically kingdom teaching, the story of the bridesmaids reiterates the traditional gospel exhortation to "stay awake" so as not to be caught unawares by the "moment of truth" (Matt. 25:1-13). This story prefigures the drama in the Garden of Gethsemane, in which the disciples are urged to remain vigilant for when the time comes to confront injustice. [Image] What follows is a story about a very rich master--but there is no indication that this is a kingdom parable (25:14). We have been warned to be alert! [Image] The original audience of this story would not have had to allegorize the parable to make sense of it. Its portrait of a great household--the closest thing in antiquity to the modern corporation--was all too recognizable. The powerful patriarch would often be away on economic or political business. His affairs would be handled by slaves, who in Roman society often rose to prominent positions in the household hierarchy as "stewards" (25:15). [Image] But the sums entrusted here border on hyperbole. Scott writes: "A talent was one of the largest values of money in the Hellenistic world. A silver coinage, it weighed between fifty-seven and seventy-four pounds. One talent was equal to 6,000 denarii." Since one denarius was an average subsistence wage for a day's labor, one talent was worth more than fifteen years wages. In the modern era, we might roughly translate the assets made available for investment at about 2.5 million dollars. These are elite financial dealings indeed! [Image] The first two slaves double their master's investment (25:16-17). Though lauded by modern interpreters, this feat would have elicited disgust from the first-century audience. In his article "A Peasant Reading of the Parable of the Talents," Richard Rohrbaugh notes that in antiquity the highest legal interest rate was about 12 percent; anything higher was considered rapacious. This is the first of many hints that the operations of this household are something less than exemplary. [Image] Bruce Malina in The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology has shown that in traditional Mediterranean society, the ideal was stability, not self- advancement. Anyone trying to accumulate inordinate wealth imperiled the equilibrium of society and was thus understood to be dishonorable. Greed was widely believed to characterize the rich, who extorted and defrauded other members of the community through lucrative trading, tax collecting, and lending money at interest. In fact, usury was understood in antiquity to be responsible for the destructive cycle of indebtedness and poverty, while profiting from commodity trading was explicitly condemned by no less a sage than Aristotle.

[Image] The biblically literate, moreover, would recall the warning against stored surplus in Exodus 16:16-20, the prohibition against usury and profiteering off the poor in Leviticus 25:36ff, or Isaiah's condemnation of those who "join house to house and field to field" in their real-estate dealings (Isa. 5:8). Yet Herzog thinks it is precisely such unscrupulous business dealings that are implied by each slave's doubling his master's investment. Large landowners made loans to peasant small holders based on speculations of future crop production. With high interest rates and vulnerability to lean years and famine, farmers often were unable to make their payments, and faced foreclosure. After gaining control of the land, the new owner could continue to make a killing by hiring laborers to farm cash crops. [Image] It is a process of economic exploitation and wealth accumulation that is still all too characteristic of our own global economy. In the parable, the master's slaves do this highly profitable dirty work well. [Image] We, of course, undaunted by this historical context and blissfully interpreting the parable through capitalist lenses, have nothing but praise for these "good stewards." As Rohrbaugh puts it, "commentators of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have genuinely reveled in the parable's seeming exhortation to venturous investment and diligent labor." We then turn to castigate the third slave who, cautious and "unproductive," represents an object lesson of entrepreneurial failure (25:18). But if the manner of profiteering portrayed in the story would have been understood by the original audience as rapacious, is it not possible that this noncooperating third slave might in fact be the hero of this parable? [Image] When the master returns to settle accounts we find identical phrasing in his commendations of the first two financiers (25:21,23): "Well done, good and trustworthy slave--enter into the joy of your master." We are used to reading this allegorically as connoting entry into heavenly bliss. But at the plain level of the parable it serves not only as a promotion ("I will put you in charge of many things"); it is also a reminder that these handlers are still slaves, and that it is the master's joy in which they are participating! We might say that these slaves are more captive than ever to the world controlled by their lord. [Image] Like a good three-part joke, we now come to the punch line: The third slave is about to explain his (in)action (25:24-25). That he buried the money in the ground seems strange at first glance. But considering that many in Jesus' audience were farmers, there may be some wry peasant humor here. Those who work the land know that all true wealth comes from God, the source of rain, sunshine, seed, and soil. But this silver talent, when "sown," produced no fruit! [Image] Here is the clash between two economic worldviews: the traditional agrarian notion of "use-value" and the elite's currency-based system of "exchange-value." Money cannot grow the natural way like seed, only unnaturally, through usury and swindling. Is this symbolic act of "planting" the talent a case of prophetic tricksterism to reveal that money is not fertile? [Image] The third slave now begins to speak truth to power. "I knew you were a harsh man" (the Greek is skleros, a word associated with old Pharaoh's disease of hardheartedness). "You reap where you did not sow, and gather where you did not scatter seed" (25:24). [Image] With these words the third slave becomes what Herzog calls a "whistle-blower," having unmasked the fact that the master's wealth is derived entirely from the toil of others. He profits from the backbreaking labor of those who work the land. Unwilling to participate in this exploitation, this third slave took the money out of circulation, where it could no longer be used to dispossess another family farmer. [Image] This courageous dissident embodies the moral of the bridesmaids parable. He has awakened to the rules of the master's world. His repudiation of it is simple and curt: "Here, take back what is yours" (25:25). But he admits that through it all "I was afraid." For good reason--he is about to meet the prophet's fate. [Image] It is instructive that the master does not refute the whistle-blower's analysis of his world. He simply castigates him as "evil and lazy" (the favorite slur of the rich toward those who don't play the game), and wonders rhetorically why the slave didn't at least seek market-rate return. The master is not interested in what is his own--he appreciates only appreciation. He then decides to make an example of the third slave, dispossessing him and giving the single talent to his obedient colleague, in order to illustrate the way the real world works: "For to those who have, more will be given--but for those who have not, even what they have will be taken away" (25:28-29).

[Image] This parable reads much more coherently as a cautionary tale about the world controlled by great householders (this is even clearer in Luke's version of the story, Luke 19:11-27). Jesus may even have been spinning a thinly-veiled autobiographical tale here--for he, too, will shortly stand before the powers, speak the truth, and take the consequences. To read in it a divine endorsement of mercenary economics and the inevitable polarization of wealth is to miss the point completely--and to perpetuate both dysfunctional theology and complicit economics in our churches. [Image] The consequence of the third slave's noncooperation is banishment to the "outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (25:30). We have presumed this to be "hell," and so perhaps it is--that is, the hell on earth experienced by those rejected by the dominant culture: in the shadows where the light of the royal courts never shine, on the mean streets outside the great households, the dwelling place of the outcast poor like Lazarus (Luke 16:19-21). But the story that immediately follows this tragic conclusion--the famous last-judgment parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:31-46) may illuminate the nature of the dissident slave's exile. [Image] This singular judgment story in the Gospels suggests that we meet Christ mysteriously by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting the imprisoned (Matt. 25:25-40). In other words, we meet Christ in places of pain and marginality; the "outer darkness." The whistle-blower's punishment kicks him out of the rich man's system, but brings him closer to the true Lord, who dwells with the poor and oppressed. [Image] We have for too long ignored or trivialized parables as arcane, pedantic, or platitudinous, ever hoping to keep aright the world they mean to turn upside down. But our two examples show that Jesus used these "folksy" stories to expose the most entrenched arrangements of power and privilege, whether Roman militarism or Judean elitism. He challenged the "tall trees" of imperial domination with his "mustard seed" movement of Jubilee justice. And he called for renewed resistance to usurious "business as usual" in Israel, a costly vocation of truth and consequences. [Image] Only by bringing the parables back down to earth can we encounter their power both to unmask the "real world" in its cruelty and presumption, and to proclaim the radical hope of God's sovereignty, buried like a seed in the hard soil of our history.

Back to the Table of Contents

From The Other Side Online, 1999 The Other Side, May-June 1999, Vol. 35, No. 3.

[Logo] [Address]

HOME | | ABOUT | CURRENT ISSUE | ARCHIVES | EVENTS | AUTHORS/ARTISTS | ROOTS AND BRANCHES | CATALOG | RESOURCES | SUBSCRIBE | SEARCH | CONTACT | FEEDBACK


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 18:01:11

Comment

A Pop Quiz?

For to all those who have???

You all[second person plural] "have" and in this parable each one "has" what Jesus is speaking of...EVEN the wicked and lazy slave...

I know what it is... Do YOU? It is the ONE thing we all have but Jesus is calling attention to HOW we use this very specific trait WE all have.

Know what it is yet? I do.

In grace,

LJC


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 18:42:49

Comment

LJC, You lost me on that one? (Guess I flunked the pop quiz.)

What are you getting at? DWR


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 19:50:27

Comment

To Rev. Whiteside

Thanks for referring us to the article. For myself, it helped me clarify some things that are going on in myself, and my congregation. It also helped me put into perspective the "Microsoft" situation. If "the otherside's" take on the parable has some merit, then the earthly Jesus not only "broke in" to history in the 1st century c.e., but also into our lives at the end of the 20 C c.e. Can some of you tie this Scripture with the Judges pericope? DWR, you have it together, don't get sidetrack, if you get my drift.

Shalom

Pasthersyl


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 20:13:49

Comment

As far as the Talents Sermon being given, I personally know a pastor who has done the "Talent Grant" program annually with at least two different congregations, however, they started with grants of $1-5. It wasn't dropped on them as a surprise. The source of the talent grant money has always been one or two of the biggest givers to the church, who have been willing to put up the money as a challenge to others, without reducing their pledges, once the idea was carefully explained to them. Every time my friend has done this, it has resulted in people being energized to see themselves in ministry, and in a substantial increase in the money invested, once a tenfold gain.

Why haven't I tried it? Not a senior pastor yet. I think it would be worth a try. However, I would recommned dropping it on people this week! I think that clearly groundwork would have needed to be laid with the leaders of the church several months ahead of time. Think about saving the talents sermon for later if you think it's worth trying!

ST


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 20:18:52

Comment

Sorry, that line should read, "I would NOT recommend dropping it on people." My proofreading isn't up to par!

ST


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 20:19:11

Comment

Sorry, that line should read, "I would NOT recommend dropping it on people." My proofreading isn't up to par!

ST


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 20:28:01

Comment

A question for all who may use the reference from Chet; Matthew constantly uses the phrase "weeping and gnashing of teeth for those who are punshed by the Lord (Matthew 8:12, 13:42, 13:50, 22:13, 24:51). It seems to me that this interpretation switches the one who punishes and sends to outer darkness as the "capitalists". Yet that does not seem consistant with the other references. How does this interpretation gel with the way Matthew uses Weedping and nashing of teeth in other references?


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 20:57:23

Comment

Pasthersyl,

Don't worry. I don't think I will get sidetracked. I appreciate the concern though.

It's just with this insight, a standard "talents" sermon seems to be trite. I will be praying the scriptures for a day or so.

DWR


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 21:06:34

Comment

Dear DWR,

Yes, DWR...Jesus has ONE very specific attribute we humans were created with...

Trait means, A distinguishing feature, as of the character. Not the best choice of words.

This "word" Jesus has in mind deals only with the human creation. All animals are excluded.

any idea now?

In grace,

LJC

P.S. No flunking here, smile


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 21:26:27

Comment

Rev. Whitehead,

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have read both Herzog's book and Scott's. I recommend them both to anyone who would like more interpretations like these for Jesus' parables. I have preached a couple sermons based on these interpretations. One specifically was on the text "forgive seventy times seven" and the parable that follows. If you note in that text, how many times does forgiveness take place. ONCE, only once!!! It is the owner who is in the wrong here. He forgave one and then withdrew his forgiveness. I created a modern day parable focusing on the injustices that mulit-national corporations shower on their workers. I had many comments from my congregation that they appreciated the interpretation.

This text for today is another opportunity. DWR, an opportunity to speak to the institutionalized sin that takes place throughout the world.

Again, I recommend these books to everyone!! Please don't discount this interpretation. I fear that we to often look for easy interpretations that allow us to continue to "feel good" about where we are. I think we would be wiser to often see ourselves as the landowners than as the slaves. Where do we participate in this kind of abusive behavior towards others.

Enjoy the week,

God Bless,

Rev. B


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 21:56:27

Comment

This is my first posting and I do it with great fear. I have two concerns. One is the giving of money and encouraging people to use it as the slaves in the parable did. Doesn’t it encourage us to wait for the Lord to bless us so we too can serve instead of realizing that we are already rich and already blessed with more than enough to invest for the master? –that’s not to say I will never use the idea.

The other concern is with the Other side article. While very thought provoking I wonder if it does go a little too far. However I am a white middle class male and you can’t trust how I view life.

I think how we view God is the key, Harsh or Graceful. Thanks Arte from Arcadia


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 22:16:46

Comment

to DWR, and Pathersyl, Thanks for your feedback. As someone still learning the ropes of this ministry/preaching 'thing' it's great to discuss and dialogue... particularly about a viewpoint (the Other Side's article) that is _so_ different to almost everything else.

Pathersyl - I love the Microsoft connection... I can just see a recount of the parable here... "A certain businessmann Mr Gates divided his company up, and to the first director he gave...."

2ndly - My own query about Ched & DeBode's assertion that this parable _is_not_ a kingdom parable became clear when looking at the greek. Rough transliteration is "It's like this guys..." NOT "The Kingdom of heaven is like" as it was in the first translation I had worked with. (I should know by know to look at other versions ;-) )

I think I'll be here a bit this week, I'm still grappling to get a hold of how to preach this parable now. Yours in Christ, Luke Whiteside


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 22:43:53

Comment

Dear Arte

Welcome, and thanks for your contribution. I agree with the thought of the article that when we read parables we should not see the characters, but the message behind the parable. The owner should not be seen as God. I also agree with you, that God is a God of grace.

Shalom

Pasthersyl


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 23:23:37

Comment

Arte from Arcadia,

Welcome. The tension you address is central for me. The reason the other side article is so inspiring for me is the harsh treatment on the part of God.

Here's what I posted on November 4:

"The problem I have with this answer is reconciling it with verse 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.'"

That verse has always bothered me. Particularly with Christ's definitive preference for "the least of these," the poor, outcast, widow, and sojurner. How could a God who cares for these even suggest that they would be blessed with less would have it taken away. Where's the justice?

Turning this parable up-side-down, as the "otherside" comentary does, reconciles that tension for me.

On the other hand, one un-named posting notes the reference to "weeping and gnashing of teeth" is only used by Matthew as symbolic of Hell.

To that, I have two responses.

1) 8:12 is not clear. It may referr to a spiritual, eschatological hell. Like our reference in 25:30, it may also refer to an earthly, human-made hell. The other references, 13:42, 13:50, 22:13, and 24:51 all clearly refer to a spiritual, eschatological hell. Based on that, there could be problems with not spiritualizing this and maintaining the traditional intrepration.

2) Most of the comentators I have consulted lump chapters 23, 24, and 25 under the general catagory of eschatological judgment. This gives further weight to the traditional intrepration.

Yet, I have a question. Does "hell" (i.e. a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth) have to be a spiritual place with eschatological implications. or, as Meyrs and DeBode note, could it be "the hell on earth experienced by those rejected by the dominant culture." Basically, does hell have to be other-worldly and eschatological?

I would lean toward "no." Yet I would appreciate other contributions.

DWR


Date: 08 Nov 1999
Time: 23:56:05

Comment

Dear fellow contributors I think some of the stories that Nailbender has shared with us gives us example of persons who have been living in hell. And yet, as he skillfully reflects on the situations, we see the "blessed are the poor," that our Savior talks about.

Shalom

Pasthersyl


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 01:25:44

Comment

Thanks, Tom in Ga, for your illumination. The parable message is truly based on the idea of God's limitless generosity, isn't it.

I think the lectionary is moving toward a great climax at the end of the liturgical year. The Gospels recently have pointed to the end of all things, the grand culmination of history, when the ultimate meaning of all things will be made clear. The finale is next Sunday, the last Sunday of the year (Nov. 21) which in some traditions is called "Christ the King Sunday". The movement is like a symphony that is moving to the thunderous, glorious climax of the glory of Christ above all the world. In the light of that final climax, how we use our talents in this life is put into a funny and embarrassing perspective. We hold onto our little coins quaking in fear, when the giver of all gifts stands in earth-shaking, joyous anticipation for the "glory which is to be revealed to us." We should be extravagantly living, tasting the first fruits of the great victory already in our midst. Isn't that the idea? -- Tim in Deep River


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 02:15:05

Comment

I am concerned about some of the motives we attribute to the slave who buried the master's talents. I found the following from an online homiletics resource: "The slave with the one talent ... takes a different course. His action -- burying the money in the ground -- might seem ludicrous to us today. In Jesus' day, however, this was a perfectly acceptable method of safeguarding valuables. Furthermore, it was a long-standing rabbinic teaching that anyone who buries money that has been put into his care is no longer liable for its safety. It is automatically assumed he has taken the safest path available to him to ensure the money's well- being. Thus the slave who buried his one talent could feel secure in the knowledge that he had taken a safe, prudent course of action on his master's behalf."

Safe and prudent, yes, but I wonder if what the master wanted was risk-taking?

Chris from down-under (land of the Rugby world champions!)


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 04:30:33

Comment

So Chris,

Does that mean you are from South Africa?

Just kidding!

Thanks for your post.

Shalom, Nail-Bender in NC A Once Fearless Rugger (Now just sort of wishing)


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 04:47:17

Comment

To the person who is wondering whether the story about giving $20 out to members of the congregation, I have worked in many churches in my not so long time, in Australia, and I know of at least three that I have attended that have used this method. In Aus. it is not urban myth, but has really occurred to the glory of God.


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 05:41:45

Comment

Tim in Deep River,

I think that this text leads toward Christ the King both ways of intrepreting it.

You mentioned the celebration way. That may very well work.

Yet, consider another look. Christ the King on God's terms, not human terms. The lectionary is leading to the climax of a King that can only be served by ministering to the least of these. Therefore, the climax is the scandal of the cross. Jesus, the Lamb of God, fulfills the culmination of his earthly reign on a cross, banished and killed by the powers of the world. The third slave, trembling in fear of his human master, exposed the master's greed and unethical business practice for what it was and was so banished.

Remember that scripture has two images of a "Kingly Christ." One is very regal and royal and one is a slaughtered lamb. The beauty of this text, at least as I see it, is that it can serve both images.

DWR


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 06:57:54

Comment

FYI: The Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church gave out over $2,000.00 in one dollar bills in 1998, asking the delegates to invest the money and bring it back in 1999. The results were a tremendous multiplication of the original one dollar per delegate. I myself made over $40 and returned the same to the Conference. It was, incidentally, dropped on us" with no advance preparation. They gave us all envelopes with a dollar bill, and asked us to open it. After a brief period of curiousity, they explained the challenge.

I will stick with Wm. Barclay on this passage. It is further condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees for not trying. "It tells us God gives men" (or women) "different gifts." "It tells us the reward of work well done is still more work to do." Finally, Barclay says it reminds us the person who is punished is the one "who will not try."

Now, I am very sorry, I cannot go along with the quoted "otherside" commentary. Simply read the text. I see no possible way the slave would be REWARDED by his master saying "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 money with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents." . . . "As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." There is just no way I can find to turn that direct quote of the master into commendation, it is clearly condemnation. Read that passage to a few people, or a congregation, and try to convince them it is praise for the "lazy man."

I feel we all sometimes try to intellectualize too hard to find meanings that are not really there. Jesus says simply use what gifts I have given (loaned) you to do God's work. That will preach. revup


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 12:16:34

Comment

I too have a difficulty with the last part of the text. The difficulty I have is with a God who treats creation in such a way as to throw some into the outer darkness (which is what the traditional interpretation reveals). Are we really to believe that the God whom we love and honor is a God of brutality and cruelness. Not the God I worship. I believe God to be one who seeks wholeness for all people. And wholeness comes only when the injustices of the world are revealed to all people. This master was an absentee master (Is God absent from our lives?) This master "reaped where he did not sow" (Does God reap from others work, or is God involved in all we do?) This master saw those who feared him as lazy and worthless (Does God believe any human being is worthless? I don't think so!). The quote, yes is a condemnation. But it is a condemnation from an abusive master. The "otherside" interpretation reveals that the master was in fact abusive. As was stated before, there is no evidence that this is a Kingdom of God text. It is simply revealing the injustices that are part of real life for so many (In Jesus' time and our's).

I simply can't go along with an interpretation that makes God out to be abusive and evil.

Grace to all,

Rev. B


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 12:18:25

Comment

Dear Revup,

I apologize in that I don't have adequate time in which to respond to your post. However, might I suggest that one's view is always tied to one's perspective - one's reality. There are certainly many with whom I sojourn that have the ears to hear the truth as offered up by Ched Meyers. Many times, our perspective might only be changed when we seek to walk the path of the other, when we seek to see the world from the "underside." This is not to suggest that you do not do that; however, parables always have many levels of meaning and must always be dealt with from the perspective of the hearer. What Ched Meyers seeks to do is place us with the hearers in the 1st Century narrative.

I always appreciate your posts, as I do this time. It is good that we might share and disagree with one another in love.

Shalom my friend, Nail-Bender in NC


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 12:37:13

Comment

We gave our $$ in our congregation seveal years ago for folks to use and multiply. Several folks were very innovative and returned a profit. One person created a crisis by returning an empty envelope with a note "sorry, bad investment!" After we calmed down the Financial Secretary who didn't see any humor- and after talking to the person who returned the envelope (and it wasn't hard to guess who might have done it) it started me asking how the Master in Jesus' parable would have responded to a servant who had invested and lost the talent. I still don't have any concrete answer, but my guess would be- and I stress that it's a guess- that there would have been more praise than for the one talent-not even trying person. GFinSC


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 13:22:30

Comment

From Deke of the North

Two commments. Jay, I have tried the giving out of money project a number of times in different churches I have served. The last time about five years ago I convinced the Finance Committee to loan me the money (I gave $5.00) to any who wanted it) I stressed it was "my" money and I was on the hook for it but that I had confidence in them to make it grow with all proceedss to the church. My "investment in people" project returned about $3500. for an initial outlay of $350. It was a wonderful lopportunity for people to become very creative. Go for it.

Secondly, i am beginning preparations for a service entitled "Light in the Darkness" or what some call a "Blue Christmas" service for those who find Christmas difficult because of "grief". anyone ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 13:33:35

Comment

M. Craig Barnes in a sermon delivered at the National Presbyterian Church in 1997 breifly mentioned the talent-hiding servant from this parable.

He makes a connection with fear. Here is a quote from his sermon.

*Jesus, who is so understanding of all our failings and limitations in this life, was absolutely unforgiving of his disciples' fear. Remember how he responded when they were afraid of the storm at sea? Remember how he responded to those who were afraid to leave their wealth and homes to follow him? Remember how he responded to the servant who was afraid of losing his talent, so he hid it in a hole? Jesus threw him out of the kingdom! Why? Because fear is the greatest enemy of the faith. Not soldiers or prisons. Not Communists. They can only survive if we are afraid of them. If you have found the love of Jesus Christ, you're not afraid, because perfect love casts out fear.*

This sermon can be found at http://www.persecutedchurch.org

John near Pitts.


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 14:17:39

Comment

To Nail-Bender all: One of Barclay's points of view is that Jesus' parables are simple stories for the simple people of His time. He says we error when we try to find too many meanings in Christ's teaching. Jesus was trying to introduce a God of love to a people afraid of the Old Testament God image. Yes, Jesus did often judge and condemn people of His time. It was the one's who judged and condemned others. It was the ones who failed to give help to the needy. It was the ones afraid to try to help others, and those who did not use the gifts and graces they had been given. No, Jesus did not say God was the master in this story. Parables are allagories. The story begins by saying "IT IS AS IF. . ." It does not say God is a Master Who. I again side with Barclay, we make a mistake when we try to read too much into a parable, and make it a complex theological point. In this case God is LIKE a master who condemns those who refuse to take advantage of the gifts they have been given. This is not a praise of capitalism, but a praise of missionary zeal, using one's gifts and graces. revup


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 14:34:41

Comment

You know, you folks have given me quite a challenge....I'm a lay-speaker. I had been asked to preach at a friend's church this sunday so that he can take a well-deserved vacation. I do not know the people of the congregation.

I had told the organist (who is also the church secreatry) I would select a text (and a theme) by Tuesday so that she could choose music.

And THEN you give me this article from The Other Side. I like the Other Side magazine. But I can't imagine preaching THIS to a congregation that I do not know. At best, they will leave very confused . . .the master is not God, the good servant is the third one . . . .

On it's own, the interpretation seems to be right on, but this text comes in the midst of a LOOOOOOONG series of Kingdom parables. As I read thhis long block of Scripture I get the strong impression that the author was trying to encourage the believers in his time to stand firm, not to give up, even though times were hard for a Christian and even though it seemed as if Jesus would not return as quickly as they had expected.

If I'm gonna use the interpretation of this parable as it is in "The Other Side" magazine, I want to read similar interpretaions of the 10 virgins, the Faithful Slave, the Judgement of the Nations that also fit this type of understanding....

Oh well . . .I've got a few more days. I'll figure it out by Sunday. crystal


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 14:52:57

Comment

If I remember right, Matthew Fox in "The Way of The Wolf" retells this parable with a fourth servant who invests badly & looses the money - but is commended by the master to trying.

To Deke in NC - 8 or 9 years ago I got called out on Christmas Eve Day to a family who had a 14 yr old girl (one of my confirmation students) killed by a gunshot wound that day. I cried through the Christmas Eve Sermon - but my point was we live in a broken world, and that is the reason God sent Jesus. mehrke in South Dakota


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 15:58:14

Comment

Crystal,

I appreciate your concern. This is a very traditionally understood parable. It is one of those texts that most congregations have heard over and over again with standard intrepretations. Challenging that is scary business.

(Think of the third slave. He too was challenging the norm and doing exactly what was not expected of him and he was condemned by the master. Your caution is well justified--as is mine as I prepare to preach the "other side" version.)

Crystal, For what it is worth. Let me share where I am going with this sermon. Take it or leave it. It is worth about as much as it costs you to read it.

I am beginning by owning the standard understanding. We all have heard this preached this way. Then I am going to ask about the part that bothers me. This image of God. The cruel treatment of the third slave. "How do we reconcile this in light of our faith in a loving, forging, and just God?"

Next I am going to own my own personal attachment to the standard traditional intrepration of this text. "I like the idea of investing our gifts and talents for the Lord. I like the challenge of taking what God has given us and using that for the glory of Christ. This is good stuff" But, I will contrast that with the frustration of God's image in this intrepration. Finally, I will say that I just can't go there. "There has to be another way that is faithful to Matthew's theology."

My next move in the sermon is to explore, as Myers and DeBode do, the perspective of the original audience. These are poor and marginal farmers, not wealthy tycoons. This will open the door to see the parable through their eyes.

Then I will explore the possiblity of turning the parable upside down in light of the original audience. (Or shall is say rescuing it from our 20th century eyes and turning it right-side-up for the first time in centuries.)

The value, (I pray) is that I don't assult the congregation with a new idea so fast tha they shut down and fail to hear any thing said. Like wise, at no time do I say that that the traditional is wrong, just that there are attributes that I can't accept. I only offer an alternative that they may or may not adopt.

Crystal, as a guest in the pulpit, you have a unique gift to plant fresh seeds that the regular preacher may be less likely or unable to preach. This is an intrepretation that call for loving and careful presentation. Yet, I would callenge you to go with how you feel the spirit leading you and preach what God has placed in your heart.

God Bless,

Peace,

DWR


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 16:32:25

Comment

DWR-

Thank you for your response to my posting. I had gotten as far as, "I chose this text because . . ." "and then I read this other article that gave me a new viewpoint." But I was also severely tempted to just trash the Other Side article because I wasn't sure I could explain it well enough for anyone to understand . . .

And then I would struggle with the need to be faithful to presenting the text in the way that it would have been understood by the original hearers . . .

Your response helps me to put some sort of a framework around what I will say. Very helpful. Thank you.

crystal (I realize I am probably seeing the surrounding parables in "traditional" 20th century terms, and I still wish I could read interpretations of the surrounding parables that would fit similar interpretations. Maybe I need to write to Myers and DeBode. <grin>)


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 16:35:34

Comment

Lots of comment this week.

While I applaud Ched's article, it also doesn't answer historical critical questions like how Matthew takes this parable and shapes it as part of an eschatological discourse. In Luke, it has a much more concrete address about the use of talents. Furthermore, in LUke it answers the crowd awaiting Jesus' entry into Jerusalem who think end times are approaching.

I can picture Jesus telling this story originally at some point to illustrate how bad it is to just sit around if you think the Dominion of God is on its way. Remember in LUke, the one-talent guy doesn't get thrown out--simply has the talent taken away. Then it is the ENEMIES who get killed. (Lutheran understanding of God and chaos in combat?) Ched's interpretation sticks in that it is all a very realistic story to those listening. In any event, Matthew seems to have made it all harsher with his highlighted vision of Judgment.

AEA


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 16:35:55

Comment

Lots of comment this week.

While I applaud Ched's article, it also doesn't answer historical critical questions like how Matthew takes this parable and shapes it as part of an eschatological discourse. In Luke, it has a much more concrete address about the use of talents. Furthermore, in LUke it answers the crowd awaiting Jesus' entry into Jerusalem who think end times are approaching.

I can picture Jesus telling this story originally at some point to illustrate how bad it is to just sit around if you think the Dominion of God is on its way. Remember in LUke, the one-talent guy doesn't get thrown out--simply has the talent taken away. Then it is the ENEMIES who get killed. (Lutheran understanding of God and chaos in combat?) Ched's interpretation sticks in that it is all a very realistic story to those listening. In any event, Matthew seems to have made it all harsher with his highlighted vision of Judgment.

AEA


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 18:06:19

Comment

Correction!!!!

I made a possibly false assumption. In my previous posting I asserted that Matthew was writing to poor famrers. Since then the overwealming consensus of the comentaries I have cousulted indicate that Matthew's audeince was likely an urban, and possibly ecconomically advantaged community, my "poor farmers" assumption may not be the wisest of things to preach.

DWR


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 18:06:41

Comment

Myers and DeBode's article works well for me in giving this parable a "new" understanding. I can follow it up to a point but it seems a bit weak in making the connection of being autobiographical. Is the condemning of the rich and powerful/ the crucifixion analogous to refusing to be part of the master's scheme ( burying the money)/being cast into darkness?

I can see it but don't think that I would be able to preach it convincingly. This article points out that we may have been mispreaching the parables for a long time. This is something that I have long suspected as I try to find someway to impart their original punch.

DWR, I was think of doing something along the lines that you outlined above to crystal. Do you plan to post the sermon on DPS. Deke in Texas -Pace et Bonem


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 18:49:11

Comment

Deke in Texas,

Posting the sermon? Well, hadn't thought of that. When it is done, (it's only 3/4 through the first draft now) then I will consider it. Thanks for the suggestion though.

Like you, I think this intrepration holds tremedous power, but has its weak points. That is why I am being careful to present it as an alternative way to read the text, not the "right" way.

Peace,

DWR


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 20:10:26

Comment

This is the first time I've ventured into Desperate Preacher - and I absolutely loved it!! (Although i was a little dismayed there were no children's sermon ideas) I enjoyed the Other Side article - frankly the one of the very few from that magazine that I've ever liked -- and of course it shows up after I cancel my subscription.

The thing about parables is that they can be approached in so many ways. I see it from two different angles - one that has been approached already and one that has not.

1. It has been helpful to me to look at the entrusting of the "talents" as the gospel revealed to the believers. God through Christ has given us the good news: that in Jesus Christ we are forgiven. And that gift is a gift of grace sufficient for where we are, according our needs - and some of us have needed more grace than others. The response to receiving the gospel is to go immediately and put it to work at once: in responding to God's activity in our lives living, sharing, risking our lives and those who have received this gift. Like the servants we are called to become "partners" with him. And this new partnership involves risk (imagine the slaves' anxiety as they awaited the "return" on their investments) - which can take the shape of the challenges we encounter, believing in the return, hoping when we see no way to hope, living the Gospel faithfully. The reward is sharing in the joy of God as the gospel is advanced. The additional responsibilities we are given are the greater challenges we face the more we rely on the truth of the Gospel. Alas, the slave who could not participate in the partnership - would not understand the joy of the master as he had never accepted the gift in partnership in the first place. For him it was a burden - the grace was not understood - and the shame of our old sin nature remained. This idea marries up nicely with the Christian Century article about extravagance - where the emphasis is on the giver and the gift, and the receiver is responsible for the faithful acceptance of the extravangance of God.

2. Another, less develped theme for me would be the idea of the reward being a sense of healing. I just started a book entitled, Naked Before God, and the author, whose name I think is Bill Williams, develops the theme that the kingdom of God is the place where we are healed and that those who participate in the Gospel, living faithfully with our diseases (be they 5x larger, 3x larger, or as large as everyone else) receive the reward and the joy of our healing.

Some thoughts - many thanks for all your contributions. It's been a very thought provoking afternoon. Blessings - MGK


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 20:13:21

Comment

To all those considering the Myers and DeBode article:

I just thought of that new movie about the guy who exposed the tobacco industry.

Does anybody know its name?

Has anybody seen it?

Does it have any potential as a sermon illustration?

Just a random thought . . .

DWR


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 20:27:49

Comment

Found the title:

"The Insider" staring Al Pachino.


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 20:49:12

Comment

DWR, I have not read all of the posting yet, but I came across yours and wanted to respond before I forgot what I wanted to say.

Your posting reminded me of a story I read and I would like to share it with you in case you can use it.

"There is a legend that recounts the return of Jesus to glory after His time on earth. Even in heaven He bore the marks of His earthly pilrimage with its cruel cross and shameful death. The angel Gabriel approached Him and said, "Master, you must have suffered terribly for men down there." He replied that he did. Gabriel continued: "And do they know and appreciate how much you loved them and what you did for them?" Jesus replied, "Oh, no! Not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know." But Gabriel was perplexed. He asked, "Then what have you done to let everyone know about your love for them?" Jesus said, "I've asked Pter, James, John, and a few more friends to tell others about me. Those who are told will tell others, in turn, about me. And my story will be spread to the farthest reaches of the globe. Ultimately, all of [hu]mankind will have heard about my life and what I have done."

"Gabriel frowned and looked rather skeptical. He well knew what poor stuff men were made of. He said, "Yes, but what if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? What if way down in the twentieth-century people just don't tell others about you? Haven't you made any other plans?" And Jesus answered, "I haven't made any other plans. I'm countin on them." Twenty centuries later, He still ahs no other plan. He's counting on you and me. High on God's "To Do" list is the evnagelization of the world. His early disciples adopted His priorities and devoted themselves to reaching the world. Christ counted on them, and they delivered. Have we done as well?"

This story is taken from James S. Hewett"s "Illustrations Unlimited." I don't plan to preach on this subject, but I hope this illustration is helpful for you.

Brandon in CA


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 21:48:50

Comment

Wow! So many good comments, my mind is reeling!

Have you ever noticed that some people have all the talent (ability) and others have none? I wonder if the untalented folks really have no talent, or if they are simply afraid to seek it out and develop it.

I am intrigued by the idea of investing the church's money with its people. I am in a small church that wants to grow but is often too afraid to invest time, money and talent into the things that we hope will bring about a good return (ie. a full time pastor). I think I can present this idea hypothetically and watch them squirm in the pew as they think about risking that kind of money. (For us, it would be approximately $1200, which is roughly equivalent to one week's offering. Once the congregation is aware of their discomfort with the risk, I might then present the image of God's greater investment. If risking $1200 of the church's money is too much, think about the investment God makes when he gives us the talents God needs to bring about the kingdom of God? (DWR discusses this more eloquantly than I, but the point is the same. God's investment in us is great; we are called to be stewards of God.

Just some stray thoughts,

JR in BigD

PS: The other side interpretation has erupted many thoughts in my mind. It will need much more thought than I can give it at this time- file it away, maybe I'll see it again in 3 years.


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 21:54:07

Comment

Deke in Texas, Posted, It's there. (As requested.) DWR


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 22:25:50

Comment

One more question to all, and to DWR

My point was not so much to ask whether the punishment of "weeping and gnashing of teeth was 'heavenly' or 'earthly'. The question is how does Mathew use this? Who usaully does the punishing when this phrase is used? and who is usually punished? It seems that all (8:12 may be somewhat uncertain) have the Lord or angels doing the punishing and those who are punished are not the outcasts or mariginailzed but the evildoers, the hypocrocrytes, the slave who beat his fellow slaves. And most of these refernces are Kingdom parbles.

DJG in MI


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 22:32:22

Comment

DJG in MI

I agree with you. This is a weak spot in this intrepration of the text. For me, however, reconciling that inconsistency was a lot esier than the others I had.

Deke in Texas,

I don't know what I did wrong, but when I tried to post the sermon it got all goofed up. I think it is in there, but I have not seen it post. For some reason one click of the mouse seemed to copy the sermon several times so it repeats over and over again. When it finally shows up on the website, I have no idea what it is going to look like.

DWR


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 22:35:22

Comment

MGK -- Welcome! Here is a children's message idea for you. (BTW, Frank, if you are reading this, I tried to post this in the Children's Messages section, but it hasn't shown up after several hours.)

You will need crocus bulbs: one single bulb and another bulb that has started to multiply. Show the children the crocus bulb. Explain how crocuses grow. If you keep your crocus bulb safe and clean, it will never grow -- it will shrivel up and rot. Crocuses can only grow if you plant the bulb in the dirt. And then, not only do they flower, but they multiply. Each year they spend in the soil, they multiply even more. Our faith is like the crocus bulb. If we want to believe in God, but never put our faith into action in the world (in the dirty world!), our faith with shrivel and die. But when we trust in God and put our faith into action, it grows and multiplies, and turns into something beautiful for God.

If you are in the northern hemisphere, this is the time of year to plant crocuses. Give the kids their own crocus bulbs and encourage them to plant them this week. See how many of them remember the message next spring when the flowers come up! I gave this message two years ago, and I am amazed how many of the children remembered it when their flowers bloomed!

I originally posted this children's message to Donald McCorkindale's "Talks to Children" website. I really recommend it for anyone who has to come up with children's sermons. The URL is

http://www.mccorkindale.dabsol.co.uk/talks/

Janet in MD


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 23:04:33

Comment

tom-in-ga I think that you are right when you say our preconceptions foretell our perceptions. It is not "what you see is what you get" but rather "what you think you will see is what you will get."

When we expect to be tired, we are tired. When we expect to be enthusiastic, we are enthusiastic. God deals with us in the way that we feel he will. What we are able to receive as far as gifts goes is tied closely to we expect to get.

God will richly bless those who expect to get a lot of blessings from him.

Gus/Kan (Gus in Kansas)


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 23:06:15

Comment

Dear Janet in MD:

THANKS!! That's a great idea! I look forward to giving it a try.

Blessings - MGK


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 23:11:28

Comment

Gene Powell Baker

Might it be the book by Norman Dietz, and the one is about Bertha the elephant being jealous of Adam's new love,Eve, cuz Bertha had the hots for Adam, so she sits ont he whole. There was also one about Old Emer's (sp?) clay pot.

Don't know the name as I moved and cant see mine on the shelf either. Gus/Kan


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 23:24:48

Comment

Wow,was I glad to see the link to the "Other Side"Article. I had heard this prospective preached at here in Seminary by a South African Minister during a chapel service. It really opened my eyes to how ones situation and context affects how we hear the bible, and how we interpret it.


Date: 09 Nov 1999
Time: 23:30:23

Comment

Wow,was I glad to see the link to the "Other Side"Article. I had heard this prospective preached at here in Seminary by a South African Minister during a chapel service. It really opened my eyes to how ones situation and context affects how we hear the bible, and how we interpret it.

It also reminded me of how God uses the Bible and the Holy Spirit to still speak to people in differetn situations today. The minister from South Africa (Dr. Kahbula, I think?) wasn't telling us that our "traditional" interpretation was wrong but how a person in an economic structure that is being oppressed by it would identify with the slave that buried the talent and refused to participate in an unjust system.

I also wonder how this reads if we did not have verses 29 and 30 attached to it. It sort of seems like a Mattewian commentary on the parable, and not part of the original.

Still, for my congregation, I think the interpretation of the Good News being the talent that Jesus is alluding to will preach better. So I think that is where I am headed with it. But who knows- its still early.

Peace and Grace to All Pastor Debbie in Bangor,ME


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 02:01:26

Comment

I have heard that Jesus' parables more often deal with money than with any other subject. Does anyone happen to have the figures on what percentage of Jesus' parables deal with economics?

thanks.

crystal


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 03:10:43

Comment

What a challenging discussion you're all having! I'm a avid reader here and an infrequent contributor but I wanted to add that I'm torn between some of these interpretations. On the one hand, I always try to begin from the point of view that the original hearers of Jesus' teachings, or recipients of his ministry would have had, which aligns me, I think with The Other Side. And these were oral messages that the hearers were not able to rehash the way we scrutinize the Scriptures, so they were not so much allegories to teach a lesson, as dramas to make a point, to create an impression, or e even an experience. At least that's how I approach them. On the other hand, if scholarship indicates that the burying of treasure was standard operating procedure, why would Jesus make such a point of commending it, over against the apparently rapacious and/or usurious practices of the master and the first two servants? I've always read this with the view that the act of giving over the huge amounts of sums to three servants, whose actions were apparently uncertain, unpredictable and/or untrustworthy is a red flag to us that this is not intended to be read as a "real world" scenario, since in the real world a harsh master would not do this, though a gracious Master would... My problem? This is Stewardship Sunday, so I have to preach stewardship, on way or the other. Thanks for all the input, everybody. Blessings! MAL in NY


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 03:45:11

Comment

MAL in NY,

One thing that is worth mentioning is that both intreprtations have merit. I don't think either is "wrong" or "right" just different. Thank God that the Word is never restricted to single-minded intrepretations.

If stewardship is your theme, "The Other Side" still offers an angle worth considering. Stewardship involves more than just giving money to the church. One could argue that the master in this view was a horrible steward. Similarly the two "good slaves" were also poor stewards because they adopted the master's sinful disregard for humanity and economic equality.

The "bad slave" on the other hand was a good steward because he stood up for economic equality and biblical justice, even when it cost him dearly.

For a congregation the question could be a matter of priority. Would we rather support the status quo, give the boss our very souls, and sacrafice everything the church stands for just to make a buck? I don't know, this may be too far a strech. It is "off the top." Take it for what it is worth.

Peace,

DWR


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 05:26:25

Comment

Dear DJG, isn't it interesting that twice when Matthew uses weeping and gnashing of teeth he combines it with throwing them into a furnace of fire 8:42 and 8:50, and in 8:13, 22:13 and 25:30. In the first two Jesus is definatly the judge and the view of the reign of God fits with Matthew, but for the last two there are questions that have to be asked about how the parabells fit with the kingdom. Could there also be another side to the wedding banquet - I know it is a kingdom parrable and I am not going to try and deny that. But in the end a case could be argued possibly that the outer darkness is hell on earth while the fire is a spiritual hell this is only a first thought to your questions and not one I've put much time into, but it is interesting that there are differences.

Mary in Aus


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 07:40:22

Comment

DWR - Did you say (in a message to Deke) that you had posted your sermon? If so I can't find it. i'd be really interested to see it, as like many people have indicated, the Other Side's interpretation by Myers and DeBode has a lot going for it, but is _very challenging. If it is posted already, could you point me the right direction? Many thanks in advance. LukeW in Oz


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 12:50:50

Comment

Dear Fellow DPers, I haven't gotten through reading all of the posts yet. But here is a link to "Another Parable of the Talents," by Prof. Thomas C. David, III. It is copyrighted, but he has given permission for it to be used for education and preaching in the Church. It's well worth looking at.

Grace to you all. MW in MA

http://www.sfcts.org/talents.htm


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 13:19:14

Comment

I think many have a problem with this text because of an allegorical interpretation. For example, taking this allegorically we have to ask the question: "Who is the master?" And when we answer "God," we then have to deal with an uncomfortable image of God rewarding the greedy and reaping where He did not sow. Hence, now we have to harmonize this understanding and end up with interpretations like Ched's article.

Don't forget that Jesus was one of the first "Shock Jocks", many of His parables are shocking, turning the expected upside down. No doubt many of the original hearers of this parable may have been shocked at Jesus "condoning" usury and rewarding those interested in making mammon. Shock value is important to both the form and the way parables function. I see this parable not teaching us what God is like (reaping where He doesn't sow...condoning material endeavors) but rather ways that people respond to the kingdom.

I find it interesting that Jesus seems to be saying that playing it safe doesn't get you into the kingdom. What is the motivating factor behind the third slave's action: FEAR. I think Jesus is saying, blessed are the fearless, blessed are the risk-takers, blessed are the bold. I think Jesus is saying fear has no place in the life of the Kingdom person. If this doesn't preach then heaven help us all.

(Just a prophetic push here: Why are people afraid to preach the usual interpretation here? Why does it always have to be something new and improved?)

John near Pitts


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 13:22:07

Comment

I have had a little time to read the link offered by DWR and also his (her?) sermon.

To say that I'm troubled by the conclusions drawn would be a bit of an understatement.

The author of the link decries the more traditional interpretations that have been 'filtered', perhaps unconsciously, by prejudicial capitalist viewpoints, then interprets the parable from his more 'objective' viewpoint.

Yea, right.

What we have here in my view is the continued attempt to defang the Biblical Jesus, who states in the passage Himself after this one that He will "...come in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats."

Why can we not accept that Jesus is loving and merciful and full of Grace AND He is Holy and Just and will eventually deal justly with the rebellious, the obstinate, and the self-righteous who go their own way in clear disobedience to His will?

Who is filtering their interpretations here through their own prejudicial and pre-conceived notions?

Just the traditionalists?

Please...

Rick in Va


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 13:42:16

Comment

Deke of the North: I, too, am doing a Blue Christmas service. I like your "Light in Darkness" theme/title. Can we find a way to connect and share some ideas around this? I'd appreciate the opportunity ... MW in MA


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 14:05:59

Comment

"WE ARE TRANSMITTERS"..."Ass we live, we are transmitters of life. and when we fail to transmit life, life fails to flow through us. ....And if, as we work, we can transmit life into our work, life, still more life, rushes into us to compensate, to be ready and we ripple with life through the days...Even if it is a woman making an apple dumpling, or a man a stool, good is the stool, content is the woman, with fresh life rippling in to her, content is the man. ....Give, and it shall be given unto you is still the truth about life. But giving life is not so easy. It does't mean handing it out to some mean fool, or letting the living dead eat you up. It means kindling the life-quality where it was not, even if it's only in the whiteness of a washed pocket-handkerchief." (D. H. Lawrence)........Does not Lawrence's poem do at least some justice to the interpretation of this scripture? PaideiaSCO still enjoying the DPS family although at times it causes wrestling with the Word, followed by illumination, confession, and affirmation.


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 14:09:49

Comment

Sorrry...see I'm already into confession!...The beginning of Lawrence's poem should be "As". PaideiaSCO


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 14:49:04

Comment

Dear Friends in Christ, I truly appreciate the many diverse views and questions presented at this site for they are all inspired, and they enrich the meaning of God's word. Likewise the importing of Ched Myers' view of this parable presents another approach, no more correct or incorrect than others - just different. (For a clearer view of where Ched is coming from read his introduction to The Binding of the Strong Man, Orbis Books, 1988.) I, too, would like to speak to this parable in a different way, and a way which will hopefully add to the richness of the discussion.

First off, there is no problem in taking an anti-capitalist view into the first century as long as you realize that capitalism and anti-capitalism grew out of the 19th century, and that the people in the first century knew neither! I think Malina and Rohrbaugh are onto something when they say that the political-social-economic structure back then was based on power. First you gained power by force, then you exploited the weak to gain wealth. But that doesn't mean that the weak were necessarily organized into anti-establishment groups to gain power and wealth - or that they even thought that way. I think it might have been somewhat to the contrary. As long as we're using an anachronistic structure, I always think of "Fiddler on the Roof" and Tavia's song, "If I were a rich man." Could the poor and powerless have seen being rich as a way out of poverty, not necessarily something to be despised.

According to Paul's letters the early church consisted of the poor, slaves, and trades people. It is interesting that such people would use the name kurios or Lord for their God since the emperors of Rome demanded to be called "lord" also. There is no despising of the term by the early church. Instead they saw Lord Jesus Christ as ultimately more powerful and more gracious than Lord Caesar. Again the term apostle came from someone in power (implying rich enough to afford a servant or slave) who sent his/her messenger out with a message and with authority (read power). Yet, this term, came to apply to the 12 and to St. Paul. It was adapted, not despised. Again, our term for gospel or good news comes from the Greek, euangelion. The emperors of Rome used this term to describe their edicts that were sent out to the people. And yet, once again, the early church adapted it to their use.

These five parables follow close on the heels of Jesus' apocalyptic discourse in Matthew. They do speak of the kingdom of heaven. And this one does speak of the end times. Like other apocalyptic literature and thought from 150 B.C. through the writing of Matthew and John of Patmos, there are three key elements to keep in mind about their context: (1) The people of God are facing hard times because of their witness to their faith; (2) God remains in control and ultimately will reward them in the end time; and (3) the people of God must keep the faith and continue witnessing to the point of death if so called. Why is it then that in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins the wise accept the invitation into the wedding feast? Thinking as Ched, they should have refused on the basis of unity with the foolish. Why is it that we have the parable of the master throwing a banquet and yet the invited do not come, but instead the poor? According to Ched, no one should have come. Or could it be that those in the stories enter in because the poor and weak of the first century also dreamed of entering into the richness that they saw the master had? Do we not also seek to enter into the richness of the kingdom of heaven? Are we not placed on the spiritual mountain top with Jesus when we enter into those moments of the kingdom of heaven here in this life? Do we not seek the joy of the Master?

It could be that every slave's dream was to enter into the joy of the Master. Perhaps they dreamed about the master turning to them and saying, "Here, use these gifts that I give you for my kingdom. If you do, I will reward you upon my return - and you, too, will enter into my joy."

It is not about economics or politics or social position. It is about the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ surrendered to us on the cross; it is about us entering into the work of the Lord using what we have been given, so that we also might enter into the feast of celebration.

I don't know. It's just another thought. In Christ, Neal in NE.


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 15:19:53

Comment

We seem to be posting links to other sites which discuss this parable this week. Here's my contribution to the soup pot.

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/Pent23King.html#Pentecost

crystal


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 15:20:27

Comment

We seem to be posting links to other sites which discuss this parable this week. Here's my contribution to the soup pot.

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/Pent23King.html#Pentecost

crystal


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 15:58:15

Comment

I have found this week's discussion stimulating. The interpretation from Ched Myers is certainly instructive, that we too easily look at the parables and other Biblical passages the way we've always looked at them. But I think it has some flaws: (1) I think he makes too much of the fact that the parable doesn't start "The kingdom of heaven is like." After all, the preceding parable starts that way, and we could easily understand Matthew to be saying "It's also like. . ." (2) We shouldn't assume that there is usury going on here. Even at 12%, the legal limits in those days, one can nearly double one's investment in just over 6 years (do the math). And the master was gone "a long time." On the other hand, in the context of the next pericope, it is quite legitimate to criticize those whose main purpose in life is acquisition of wealth. (3) We shouldn't assume that the master wants to reap where he had not sowed etc. That is the servant's point of view. (4) Although it is helpful to be reminded this pericope comes just 2 chapters before the crucifixion, Matthew has clearly made this part of his 5th, eschatalogical discourse. Notice 26:1, the form Matthew uses to conclude all 5 discourses, "When Jesus had finished all these sayings. . ." (5) I think Rick in Va is right in that some of the posters have a reluctance to deal with God as a God of judgment, and that is why we get some of the interpretations we have. But the (traditional) point is that God will judge those who have hoarded his grace and gifts and not shared them with others, especially in the manner suggested in the next pericope, the Sheep and Goats. That certainly ties this pericope to the Zephaniah reading. Thanks once again for the provocative discussion. Mike in Maryland


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 17:04:26

Comment

A couple of thoughts about reconciling this parable with our desire for it to be pollitically correct. I use "politically correct" in the best sense here, in that it is good that we should pay attention to that which disenfranchises the poor and the oppressed.

We wish that this terrible thing didn't happen to the one talent guy, but to the five talent one. That would be a lot more PC! BUT, it would also enable us to discard the message by saying that clearly we are not five talent people. The majority of us are one talent people. There is one thing we are good at, one gift. The point is made with the little guy, so that we can identify with it. If it had been made with the multi-talented guy, we could dismiss it as not applying to us.

Somebody else had a problem with God rewarding the greedy. I shared that problem, until I re-read the passage and realized that the two faithful fellows offered everything that they had been given, and everything that they had made BACK to the master. Only then, did they receive more. They are not greedy! They knew that what they were doing, they were doing with the master's money; and that the profits they were making belonged to the master as well! Because of this mindset, THEN they are richly blessed!

Your Servant, Ken


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 17:32:34

Comment

LukeW in Oz,

Yes, I did post it, but for some reason it took severl hours to show up. I must have done something wrong. It is there now. Sorry for the confusion.

DWR


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 17:54:35

Comment

November 10, 1999 11:45 AM CST

The story about the preacher who gave out "talents" in the form of $20.00 bills is true, at least I know of two preachers who have used the same principle. One gave out $5.00 bills, the other in a rather small congregation gave out $10.00 bills. Both funded the stewardship program through anonymous individual contributions.

I plan to use this next Sunday for a Stewardship emphasis. They will return what they have made with their talents on Christmas Eve.

RM in Mississippi


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 17:56:09

Comment

Rick in Va,

You offer worthwhile comments. Clearly, each one of us is incapable of reading the Gospel through a set of filters. Our own traditions, theological training, and church doctrines determine much of what we see, accept, reject, and intrepret. Owining that reality is an important part of preaching the Word!

I would challenge the notion of "defanging Jesus." One of the ways I see this text is really giving some hard-core teeth to a Christian's call to service.

One can say, "Use the gifts that God has richly given you to their fullest potential. As you do, God will richly reward you. If you do not, God will cast you out." That is a biblical image (just look at Revelation's warning to Laodicea, 3:14-22). Divine judgement is a biblical FACT! The traditional intrepration preaches that very well.

However, the "fangs" in the alternative intrepretation that Myers and DeBode offer is that the faithful will stand up in the face of human sin, even at great personal, economic price. If we are going to apply the Gospel to our modern lives, this, for me, is an application with a powerful bite.

Next week we will debate what it means to minister to the "least of these" and explore what makes one a "sheep" or "goat." In the context of Myers and DeBode's work, I would offer that the third slave took a stand for the "least of these" by not participating in the master's evil scheme. That was a very bold stand and may serve as a powerful model of discipleship.

Again, the power of the Gospel is that it is never stagnant, but alive, growing, moving, and flowing with the Spirit of the One who inspiried its writing and transmission. Therefore, both intreprations have validity and merit. Thanks be to God for our diversity!

Peace,

DWR


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 18:01:28

Comment

RM in Mississippi

A favor please.

After the offering of "talents" is returned, would you please re-post to this site and tell us how it worked? I know I would really like to hear about it and I am sure others would as well.

Peace,

DWR


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 18:10:44

Comment

For those of you struggling with a master who expects people to go out and use his money to make more, I have some help.

An allegory is a "representation the apparent or superficial sense of which both parallels and illustrates a deeper sense." (American Heritage Dict.) Look for the deeper sense. Jesus is speaking of money here, and allegory for what the master loans to the people. He is not really speaking of making or using money here, any more than He is speaking of real, liquid water to the woman at the well. Or any more than Jesus is really speaking of a "lost coin" in the parable of the woman who swept the house looking for a lost coin.

Why not read the word "talent" as "spiritual gift(s)?" Then you can easily see the parable is an allogory for using the spiritual gifts God has loaned us, to do God's work. After all, that is why God gave us those gifts, to do His work. If we fail to use the spiritual gifts He has given us, we too will be chastised one day. revup


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 19:05:51

Comment

Dear Gus in Kansas,

Thanks for the information on Norman Dietz. He's the right author, but his books are out of print. I have searched the web but cannot find any copies of these particular chancel dramas. If you come across yours contact me at OldMrGrace@aol.com or post here as I lurk here a lot.

Gene Powell Baker


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 19:33:46

Comment

Good idea, revup. I think it's about spiritual gifts, too, not talents as we normally think of them. I talked to someone very "talented" recently who has been neglecting his family and other relationships in order that his talents might not be wasted. His claim is that it would be a shame for God to have given him these specific gifts and then not to use them fully. This parable could be used to justify that point.

However, my contention was that these apparent talents of his were not what God was most concerned about. God certainly gives us different gifts: some of us play the piano, throw a football, calculate math problems easily in our heads, speak movingly in public, etc. Yet I am not morally culpable because I don't have all of these gifts, or even if I don't achieve greatness in the ones I have. I am morally culpable if I neglect the higher gifts, particularly faith, hope, and love. And God doesn't want me to just to have a little of these things--he wants me to risk them over and over again because when I risk them, when I give them away, invest them in life and in other people, they grow. Isn't that what we bring to show him on the Day of Days when all things are counted, and he shall reign for ever and ever? -- Tim in Deep River


Date: 10 Nov 1999
Time: 19:37:17

Comment

wow! Thank you all. There were many wonderful insights here this week. More than that, there is a wonderful sense of community in this weeks comments. thanks! Manzel


Date: 11 Nov 1999
Time: 04:04:41

Comment

OFF SUBJECT: Tim in Deep River: Been there, done that. I have an idea for your friend if you want to contact me at revup@netins.net.


Date: 11 Nov 1999
Time: 17:15:32

Comment

I like John Wesley's take on this parable. The 3rd servant did not know the master at all even though he claims he did. The 3rd servant was just trying to blame God for his own sin. His sin was the sin of ommission that the next parable in chapter 25 addresses very pointedly. God the master is addressing the 3rd servant and saying in effect,"Oh, yea?? You thought I was a hard master and you did nothing?" God called him on his lie. Our God requires of us nothing more than He gives us the power to do. Matthew 11:30 reminds us His burden is light and his yoke is easy.

Rev. Fred in AZ


Date: 11 Nov 1999
Time: 17:46:11

Comment

Here's a portion of Thom Long's commentary on the parable. I found it helpful. Peace-- Lisa @ Duke Div

So the parable is about wise and foolish disciples—those who live the Gospel now and those who do not. But the parable also cuts in another direction. It is not only a story about the moral character of the disciples but also a story about the moral character of God. What kind of God do we serve? Not the trembling speech of the one-talent slave: "Master, I knew that you were a harsh man…., so I was afraid." Now up to this point in the parable is there any basis whatsoever for the depiction of the master? Absolutely not. This master has entrusted his slaves with vast sums of money, not just for a night or two but for an extended period of time. Moreover, in a culture where slaves ere expected to their duty without receiving praise, pats on the back, or brass plaques, astonishingly this master gives them extravagant tribute, increased authority and perhaps even welcomes them into his home as members of the family. (enter into the joy of your master) There is even the implication that he lets them keep the money entrusted to them along with all the profits they have made.

In other words, everything in this story leads us to see the master as an extraordinary man—trusting, welcoming, generous, and benevolent. That is the was the narrator of the parable presents him; that is the way the first two slaves view him—otherwise they would no have been so fee to risk and act- and that is the way the master conducts himself. Clearly, the one-talent slave has badly misjudged the master, distorting the master into a tough, uncaring despot, and has foolishly acted accordingly."


Date: 11 Nov 1999
Time: 18:55:07

Comment

Lisa@DukeDiv,

Thanks for the Long commentary. It does not seem to take on the imaginative twisting required to make the parable fit a more progressive agenda, as it seems some here are prone to do.

Long's words, and your willingness to post them, give me a hope for the church, that there are still some who care about the meaning of Scripture, and desire not to attempt to fit circular idealogies into the square holes of interpretation, so that their agendas can in some way be seen to be Scriptural.

I thank you for helping to restore some sense of reasoning and meaning for me on these particular pages of the DPS.

Rick in Va


Date: 11 Nov 1999
Time: 18:59:08

Comment

My last post would make more sense I believe if I had written "circular interpretations into the square holes of their own idealogies."

Momentary lapse into 'progressive' thinking there I suppose...

Rick


Date: 11 Nov 1999
Time: 20:32:16

Comment

This is the first time I have utilized this site. I find all of the comments helpful in one sense but also disturbing as well as I consider this passage. An issue that I have with this passage, and what many of you are saying, is we are making this a works based salvation.

If we can gain salvation by simply being good at what God has given us, then what did Jesus die for? Why then do we need atonement?

Is this passage about salvation for the kingdom or something that is expect here on earth?

God bless, (if we do right) DM in OK


Date: 11 Nov 1999
Time: 22:07:54

Comment

DM in GM: I see this as a parable directed to Jesus' followers who already established their salvation through faith, and now are being challenged to use their spiritual gifts for God's work. revup

PS Rick in VA, sermon is posted. Thanks! revup


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 02:41:54

Comment

On the prayer site a couple of days ago, Nailbender posted the following prayer request:

My dear friends,

My grandmother died today. She was an elderly woman who lived a life steeped in "realness." She gave birth to seven children, watched some of them blossom and some of them suffer. She buried her husband over 30 years ago, and never loved another man. She lived and loved and struggled and hoped and died all in a small South Georgia town. She was a product of her environment and yet on so many levels, she rose above her station. In prose, she would be known as salt-of-the-earth. And now she is gone. Life and death, but this too shall pass.

Shalom,

Nail-Bender in NC

I re-post here, asking for your continued prayers for Nailbender and his family, as they grieve their loss.


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 03:08:36

Comment

Dear Deke: Regarding your request re a "blue" Christmas service. Rev. Steve Perry of the UMC here did a wonderful service last year and will be repeating it this. He gives credit to last year's "Whole People of God" curriculum, but I think he's the guy you should talk to. With his permission, his e-mail is sjperry@berkshire.net.

Good luck and Godspeed,

Jane in Lenox


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 03:31:31

Comment

For the person who posted my prayer request above -- thank you. The last few days have been full of sadness and joy. The fulness of life.

Death, where is thy sting? Where is thy victory? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord, Christ Jesus!

And through it all -- through all our disagreement and differing views and many words -- hope and love and life and God.

Shalom, Nail-Bender in NC


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 04:29:28

Comment

I have some last minute thoughts. First, I am preaching with the title, "Sieze the Day" Last weeks parable seemed to be a call to be prepared when the opportunity arises. This week I beleive we have a parable,which tells us what to do with that opportunity. General Colin Powell defined luck as "when preparation meets opportunity" We should be prepared to witness, to take the chance to tell someone about christ when the opportunity arises. This Sunday The LORD will present me with a portion of a talent, 110 or so people to witness the good news. I pray that I am prepared to "Sieze the Day"! Pastor Keith


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 07:23:35

Comment

I find myself wondering whether the "conventional" interpretation is primarily good news or primarily good advice? The same can be asked about The Other Side article's interpretation, as well.

Just wondering, R.J. in ND


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 16:43:33

Comment

Wow! What a week!

This week's discussion has proved to be one of the most stimulating and uplifting I have enjoyed to date. Thank You to everyone!

Thank you for the insight, the collegiality, and the supportive spirit all of you have expressed! It is the best time I have had since my seminary days when we would have similar discussions between classes!

Nailbender, our prayers and the Peace of Christ be with you!

God Bless to you all and Preach the Word!

Peace,

DWR


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 17:13:46

Comment

Just a few things to contribute late to the discussion. It's interesting to compare this story to Luke's (Luke 19:12-27). In Luke, the amount given is a mina, worth about twenty dollars, not a large sum. The most he gives any servant there is about two hundred dollars. This may reflect two different backgrounds to which the evangelists speak - Matthew speaking to a slightly wealthier group, while Luke speaks to a poorer group. In Matthew, he is addressing his disciples, in Luke, a larger crowd. In both contexts, however, the parables are both eschatological and tie in to the kingdom parables.

The article from The Other Side is interesting, and provides some interesting information on practices at the time. It is the Gospel, and a good sermon - but I feel that he is not preaching from the text. It is a reach to turn the story around, to make the point one of praise for the third servant.

To throw some more background into the pot - Jesus' listeners would have been very aware that Herod had to go to Rome to secure his throne (aka the Lucan reading). His son, Archelaus, had to later do the same (Matthew and Luke would have been aware of this as a recent development). In both instances, while they were away, the Jews tried to depose them. When they returned, heads rolled - literally. It is not unusual for Jesus to use some shock value in his stories, by comparing God to an unjust judge or, in this case, Herod! It would have immediately put his listeners on the defensive, aligning them with the third servant. That gave him an opportunity to make his point with them.

We have to be careful about trying to allegorize the parables - looking for too many points of contact. Jesus is pressing ONE point, that has nothing to do with whether the king/ruler is good or bad. It has to do with the use of what has been given to us. In Luke it is a little bit; in Matthew it is a lot. Either way, we are called to risk ourselves and what we have been given by investing it. The next saying in Matthew tells us HOW we are to risk it - in others. The problem was that the servant did what was safe, although perfectly acceptable - he was a good Lutheran/Catholic/Eiscopalian (you supply the denomination!), appropriately holding on to what he had been given, keeping it safe. He was concerned with loss, holding a vision of his master (correctly or incorrectly) as one who was harsh and judging (are some of our parishoners there as well?). The matter is not simply one of salvation - although that is also involved, in a sense. It is not "works righteousness" that Jesus is preaching, but what we do with the gift that is received. He is saying "use it or lose it." The person that does not reach out with the love God has given them becomes afraid to reach out, then loses empathy for others, and their heart becomes hardened so that they cannot reach out. They are left to a hell of their own making. The person who does not share their wealth starts thinking in terms of deficit - they don't have enough - rather in terms of thankfulness for a gracious God; instead of sharing, they focus more and more on getting, and on what they do not have. Their end is also a hell of their own making - a joyless, fearful (they are afraid someone will take the little they have) life of darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Henri Nouwen tells the story (With Open Hearts) of an elderly woman at a nursing home where he worked for a while. She was suffering from dementia. After the intake interview, the staff decided that they would have to take her things from her, so that she would not hurt herself. Except there was one small coin, which she held so tightly in her hand, that it took two strong men to open her hand and release the coin. It was as if, with that coin, everything she had and everything she was would be gone. That exactly was her fear. It is the opposite picture of our Lord, who on the cross opened his arms and hands to embrace the whole world, who said, "I, when I am lifted up, will draw all to me."

Gary in New Bern


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 17:17:48

Comment

Sorry - the book by Nouwen is "With Open Hands."

By the way, good discussion this week!

Gary in New Bern


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 17:49:41

Comment

Late as usual, here are my thoughts. Ithaca First Presbyterian recieved a bequest a couple of years ago. They decided to give it to the membership to invest in ministry. Each member received $500 with the caveat that they couldn't spend it on themselves, it had to be for ministry. This was not a money making project. They aren't asking for members to give the money back with interest. They simply wanted to multiply the ministry of the members. I haven't heard how they made out, but I think it's a great idea, given the trouble that many churches have with endowments. My understanding is that Ithaca already has a substantial endowment, so they were financially able to do something that many of us could not.

In regard to the text, if you are interested in a critical viewpoint, Jeremias et al point out that Matthew is probably the one who added the part about weeping and gnashing of teeth. That's one of his favorite phrases. Mt also added vs 29, a proverbial saying. So I will look elsewhere for the central thrust of the story. Also, as some of you have said, parables should not be interpreted allegorically. God is not like the master in this story, that's not the point.

Servant #3 acted out of fear. The other two took significant risks, the risk of losiing everything. Fear is the oppposite of faith. As Craddock points out, it has immobilized many servants and congregations.

The story as Mt tells it is dealing with substantial sums of money: one talent was 15 years of hard work. Even servant #3 was entrusted with a marvelous gift, perhaps $250,000, an honor that he should be grateful for, not resentful.

God created us and pronounced it good. We are called to become the person God has created us to be. To risk caring, giving, trusting, loving in the context of whoever it is that God made us. To serve, to work, to take the risk of losing all. Larry cny


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 18:09:18

Comment

RE: John Near Pitts

RE: Jesus as a "shock jock"

Thank you for the term. I'm dealing with both Matthew and 1 thess, where we find the thief in the night--a shocking idea if I ever heard one. Anyone who has been robbed would be apalled at the idea of Christ coming like a thief. So, both passages have some elements of shock for us, and I want to point that out to my congregation. So far, so good. The problem is, I then need to ask questions like So What or Why. Why are we being shaken up by these texts? Are there things about God's plan and our participation in the Reign of God that are unexpected, unpleasant or frightening? What suspense!

I saw "The Sixth Sense" yesterday, after waiting all this time. The idea of the dead lingering doesn't exactly fit our scriptures, but there was something rather poignant about the idea of the dead lingering because their work wasn't finished or they had messages to deliver.

In connection with the warning to be prepared from last week and from the epistle this week, I might need to look at what investment I've left undone. What might leave me lingering if Christ comes at an unwelcome moment.

I'm rambling. Sorry. Blessings as you prepare for your sermons. Pam in San Bernardino


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 18:38:39

Comment

Fred in LA--I need to know your full name if possible: I took one of your opinions on the text and am quoting it in full. Let me know if possible: JFHUDSON@HOME.COM

Thanks!


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 18:59:19

Comment

Excellant discussion! Thank you, one and all.

It seems to me some are reading this as allegory; others as parable. Parable has one and only one point. If parable, we don't have to explain who each character of the story might be. I feel this is bogging most of us down.

Gleaning the discussion, I think risk and refusal to risk is probably the most I would use from this story. It is true that Matthew does use a lot of allegory of parables, but I, too, have difficulty in seeing God as concerned most about profit. My "gut" feeling is that I am seeing too much of the capitalistic approach to which I am wedded, unfortunately!

Much to my chagrin, for years I saw this as referring to money, time and talents [pardon the pun]. You, and the "Other Side" have liberated me from this, for which I thank you. I think the way I will go with this on Sunday is to say that farmers usually consider planting as the way to produce fruits. The third steward, perhaps, saw burying his master's property [notice how the parable began with the master entrusting "his property to them", but in the next breath gave out "talents" - money] as the way to best care for the master's property/money whom he feared. His fear made him bury it, and it produced nothing. The other two, not living in fear, took the risk of faith and doubled the money/property which their master gave them. Money/property put to work, along with acceptable risk, is productive.

The question, then, is HOW to put money/property to work? I feel the answer comes when we celebrate Christ the King - by giving it away to those in need, by seeing other and acting and spending the master's money/property.

I will take another look at this - perhaps a lot of looks - before this is finalized, but at least I need not attempt to "explain" the inconsistencies which seems to trouble most of us IF it is allegory.

Paul F. Central Texas


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 19:14:41

Comment

Thanks for all the comments this week. They make writing the sermon a lot easier.

One observation I want to make that comes from having read some but by no means all of N.T. Wright's material. Perhaps we should look at this parable not in terms of the end of time as is often done. Instead we can see it as the Master showing up in first century Palestine after a long 'absence'. He found his servants the Pharisees wanting. So he gives their talent to the sinners, tax-collectors and prostitutes.

Just a thought.

RG in Ontario


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 19:55:40

Comment

Jamie Buckingham in Ten Parables of Jesus (Paraclete Press, Orleans MA 1988) has a great comment on this parable. "God does not want us tokeep anything-including the Law. Actually, the Law keeps us. It all we do is to try to keep it, we lose it. We possess only that which we give away."


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 20:01:35

Comment

Jamie Buckingham says there are 8 things the parable teaches us: 1. The giving of spiritual gifts is a sovereign action (of God) 2. Everyone receives something. Nobody is excluded. 3. God gives each of us differing gifts. 4. The number of talents distributed to each servant is unequal. 5. The distribution of gifts is based upon each person's ability to manage. 6. The reward of work well done is more work to do. 7. The person who is punished is the man who will not try. 8. This is the universal rule of life: If a person has a gift and exercises it, God expands it so he/she can do evenmore. If he/she has a gift and fails to exercise it, he/she loses it. (Ten Parables of Jesus, by Jamie Buckingham 1988 by Paraclete Press, Orleans, MA.) -from Bob in Brooklyn


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 20:04:35

Comment

"God does not want us to keep anything-including the Law. Actually, the Law keeps us. If all we do is try to keep it, we lose it. We possess only that which we give away." - Jamie Buckingham ( Ten Parables of Jesus, by Jamie Buckingham 1988 Paraclete Press, Orleans, MA.)


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 21:20:15

Comment

One of our members commented:

"(Think of the third slave. He too was challenging the norm and doing exactly what was not expected of him and he was condemned by the master. Your caution is well justified--as is mine as I prepare to preach the "other side" version.)"

Actually, the third slave acted as he was probably taught. In first century AD/CE (your choice <g>), Jewish culture taught that if one was entrusted with something of great value, one should bury it in the ground for safekeeping. Of course, those who forgot where they buried it made life grand for 20th century archaeologists! To the agrarian-raised disciples, there is also the understanding the a few seeds planted yield much more fruit, but the only thing that happens to planted silver is that it becomes dirty. Oh, that money WOULD grow on trees.

Art in VA


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 21:23:25

Comment

Here's a decent money story for stewardship.

Money Talks

There was this 20 dollar bill and a 1 dollar bill on the conveyor belt at the downtown Federal Reserve Building. As they were laying there side by side, the 1 dollar bill said to the 20 dollar bill, "Hey man - where have you been? I haven't seen you in a long time?"

The 20 dollar bill replied, "Man I have been having a ball! I ‘ve been traveling to distant countries, going to the finest restaurants, to the biggest and best casinos, numerous boutiques, the mall uptown, the mall downtown, the mall across town and even a mall that I just newly built. In fact, just this week I've been to Europe, a professional NBA game, Rodeo Drive, the all day retreat spa, the top notch hair salon and the casino! I have done it all!"

After describing his great travels, the 20 dollar bill asked the 1 dollar bill, "What about you? Where have you been?"

The 1 dollar bill replied, "Well, I've been to the Baptist church, the Methodist church, the Presbyterian church, The Episcopalian church, the Catholic church and to the United Church of Christ..."

"WAIT A MINUTE! WAIT A M-I-N-U-T-E!!!" shouted the 20 dollar bill. "What's a church?"


Date: 12 Nov 1999
Time: 21:30:08

Comment

Ha Ha Ha Ha!

I don't know who posted the above tale about two bills at the fed, but THANKS!

I always love a good chuckle!

DWR


Date:
13 Nov 1999
Time:
13:09:45

Comment

The one with five talents and the one with two risk investment. Life is always expansive, moving beyond, adventuring forth, willing to bet all.

The last one received only one talent and he buried it, fearful. He thwarts his life, destroys the movement of life and the spirit.

What characterizes the faith of these two. The man who received one talent interpreted God as a hard task master and as such he felt his own scarcity, the need to hold on to what he hand. The other two lived in the abundance of a gracious God and thus acted accordingly. What we have learned about God through our parents, our life situation influences how we live our lives, the belong together.

Why am I fearful, why do I hesitate, why want I risk ... the answer lies in my image of God.

tom in ga


Date:
13 Nov 1999
Time:
15:41:23

Comment

Okay, I know it's late but I just thought of a great illustration about buried treasure.

In the movie, *Stand By Me* a kid has spent all summer digging underneath his house. He had buried a jar of pennies there in the spring and spent all summer long trying to find them.

Draw your own conclusion.

John near Pitts.


Date:
14 Nov 1999
Time:
12:31:36

Comment

As others have mentioned this week seemed quite productive and stimulating. I appreciate that.... we were able to avoid the mine fields and being distracted... Yes, it works!

Someone asked about Christian Century and wanted to now about what an issue said. I believe that there is a Web site where you can read past issues of Christian Century,,, sorry i don't have that handy.

A number of years I looked at the parable from the stewardship angle.... did the piece on passing out silver dollars... and then 1 dollar bills. We got a return of $800 on an $80 investment once.... then got $1,000 on $100. More memoriable though.... was the 9 year old who recieved the free dollar with the instructions that he could see how he could make it grow, and was expected to give at least 10% back... he went to his seat and thought, and thought then returned to me and said: "Here have this dollar back.... if i have to give any of it back, i don't want it!" that had the greater impact on me... and i found that powerful when it comes to gratitude and stewardship.

donhoff, elmira donaldhoff@aol.com


Date:
14 Nov 1999
Time:
12:32:34

Comment

Now THIS is a late posting, from an authentic "desperate preacher." What a blessing this week's dialogue (which I found Friday at 01100) has been! I don't want to make a hero out of the talent-burier--but


Date:
14 Nov 1999
Time:
12:32:56

Comment

(OOPS, must have hit "Submit" by mistake--GG in NC). I was saying: though I don't want to make a hero out of the [fearful--as if I'm not!] talent-burier, I b'lieve The Other Side article is on to something. The bulletin carries the [safety valve] title, "Who Was the Master of Those Slaves?" I think the focus on the master makes some sense: the following passage begins, "When[hotan de] the Son of Man comes" [v.31]--and contrasts [so the argument would run] with the "coming" of the master [v.19]. When I found the Greek "de" in v.31, I really tilted toward the "Other Side" (the adversative reading: talent-giving master VS. the Son of Man.


Date:
14 Nov 1999
Time:
12:33:48

Comment

OK I know that you have all retired to see the Antique Road Show, or gone to bed and will not see this.....

but it occured to me that me are often light a dollar bill, or $20.... which circulates in so many places.

I see to recall Malcom Boyd's in his book (1980?) "Are You Running With Me Jesus?",, or his book of "Prayers"... there is a "Prayer on a Twenty dollar bill" he prays to God about where this $20 has been... to pay for a doctor to tend a sick child, buy medicine foranold woman, to pay for an evening of pleasure with a woman of the streets, to pay for a haircut, mobvie and some drinks, given to a mission it made it's way across the oceans to do some good work....etc.

Failure to use our potential (as in the $20) for God. Denying the gifts given to us, and unwillingness to apply those gifts to become what we are mant to be..... can be a defination of falling short....missing the mark, and being in sin.

don hoff, elmira


Date:
14 Nov 1999
Time:
12:34:13

Comment

I realize this is off the subject of Matthew, but I've seen several posts about a "Blue Christmas" service. We've done one of these for the last 4 years - always a very special part of our Advent. I would love to exchange ideas and resources, if you wish to contact me. KOC kathleen@michiana.net


Date:
14 Nov 1999
Time:
12:35:06

Comment

I've only read the first couple of contributions, but it makes me think of a unique gift we have here in the 49th State. October of each year finds every permanent resident of the state getting a fairly large check from the state. This year i was $1770. Maybe I'll ask the congregation how they're doing at investing their talent which they were given through no merit of their own.

Andy in Alaska