- Judges 4:1-7
- Psalm 123
- 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
- Matthew 25:14-30
We have the responsibility to use our talents to mirror God’s creative action in the world. What we do shows forth the glory of God, no matter how insignificant we think our actions might be. We must face the consequences of our failure to mirror God’s creation, whether through our fear or rebellion. We face these consequences individually and as a nation and society.
There are two great stories we can tell from today’s readings, each with the theme of judgment, wrath and justice. Deborah, a prophetess and judge, who with her general, Barak, prepares for battle against those who worship false gods. In the parable of the talents, Jesus tells us more than our need to use the gifts God has given us.
Being a Christian requires action and risk, not passivity. The major themes of the Christian faith – caring, giving, witnessing, trusting, loving, hoping – cannot be understood without risk. These words of Jesus have much more to do with who we understand God to be and what future God is bringing.
The stewards of five and two talents are trusted that the future was in the master’s hands and that they could risk and move in new ways that were new and uncertain. It raises the question: is the steward with one talent correct? Is ours a God we are to fear or are the other two stewards right? Does our God’s commitment to us free us to risk the future and risk the gifts God has given?
Judith Whelchel, former vicar of the Church of the Advocate in Asheville, North Carolina offers:
God asks us to do SOMETHING with what we have been given. Sitting and waiting shows no ingenuity, no creativity, no imagination. With what the one servant has been entrusted with, he maintains the status quo, refusing to dream, refusing to believe in anything fuller. Like an ostrich, he sticks his head in the sand.
Jesus, in telling this story, makes a point about how our lives fit into God’s created order. Jesus – the vagabond, ragamuffin healer and evangelist, who was born to poor parents in a barn, who named tax collectors and lepers as his best friends, who turned over the money changers’ tables in the Temple, who taught that we should share not just our shirts but our coats as well – that Jesus is not using this story to illustrate the importance of having our financial portfolios in order. Jesus couldn’t care less about your portfolio, or my stuff.
The master is outraged at the apathy and stagnant imagination in his third servant. Jesus is calling his people to be visionaries, artists of creation – to dream, believe, imagine, be alive in our bodies. With the little piece of God’s creation, with the resources that have been given us in trust – make good on the investment. Enlarge it. Think big and boldly . Take a risk. Play magician. The One to whom it all belongs is going to want to now what we have done with all our gifts.
- Put yourself in the place of each of the three slaves in the story. How do you think each of them felt as they received their money as the master was leaving?
- What do you think might have been the motivating factors for each of them as they decided what to do with the money? How do you think each slave might have felt as he anticipated the return of the master?
- With which slave do you identify with most easily? What did the master expect of his slaves? What is your reaction to his treatment of each of the three slaves?
- This parable challenges us to take risks as a part of our call from God. What risks have you taken in relation to your faith? What other messages does this story have for you?