To Go and Do Something
Year A, Proper 28, RCL, Track 2
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Matthew 25:14-30
If we believe we are living in peace and security, we may feel lulled into a false sense of arrival; that we are living in the kingdom right now here on earth. Some may have felt this way in the past but with all the turmoil, I doubt many of us feel this way now. We know of the strife within our country. People are divided by race and nationality. People are divided by politics. People are divided by disease and science. It is clear we are not in a quiet peaceable time and for this reason, there are those who predict that the end times have already begun.
Predicting the end time is impossible. We hear today that it is like a thief in the night or, from last week, the return of a bridegroom who was delayed. People have been predicting the eschaton ever since Jesus ascended into heaven. Remembering back twenty years, for many Y2K was going to usher in the end. Yet we are obviously still here. I don’t know when the end will come. All I know is that we are not to know when it comes but that it will happen in the fullness of God’s time.
This time we have, from this very moment to the end, whether the end is our death or the end is Christ’s return, is what is important. We all have a past, but it is the time from now moving forward that concerns God. What we do with this time is imperative to our future. We can live our life doing little to nothing. We can live our life not following the ways of the Lord. Or we can live our lives doing the best we can to follow God in the life he has given us. These choices are what the parable of the talents is about.
A talent is estimated to be worth between 20 years and a lifetime of wages. It is 66 pounds 9 ounces of, in this case, gold. The current value is about 2 million dollars, also consistent with the average American’s lifetime earnings.
So imagine if you were given between two and ten million dollars in a time before stocks and bonds. You were entrusted with a fortune and your boss promises to return…eventually. After a long time, he comes back and wants an account of this fortune. He asks, what have you done with the gift I gave you? Two of you reply that you have multiplied your gift. But a third person was afraid.
This fear is the problem. He was afraid, but of what? The master trusted him enough to take care of a vast sum of money. This is generosity; this is kindness and grace; a show of love. But this third man did not do a single thing with the gift he was given. He buried the gift and bided his time until the master returned.
We all know from experience that we do not always make a profit on our trades. There is risk involved in doing business with others. But I’m not sure that the expectation of the master was strictly to make more money. The expectation may be to understand that the master trusts you enough to go and do something with the gifts he has given you; to take risks just as you have seen him do. One of the men could have stolen the money and disappeared. He could have lost it all gambling or partying. The master took a risk in what he did.
We are all given gifts. Each of our many gifts are different from one another. Sometimes our gifts do produce a large return in the form of money and other times our gifts produce love, hope, and kindness. But if we never use our gifts, then we will not produce a thing.
We are in the midst of our annual stewardship campaign and we are called to take risks with what God has given us. Part of that risk is to discern what you can give to this parish. How much of your precious time, talent, and treasure can you risk? This church, like all churches, relies on its parishioners to offer their gifts; trusting that the church will use these gifts to do the work of God within both the parish and the community; trusting that your gifts will be multiplied in some form or fashion.
Christ tells us to go out into the world and risk the gifts we have been given. We are not to be paralyzed by fear and bury our gifts in the ground or in our hearts but to offer them abundantly for his purposes. This is exactly what Jesus did for us. He risked everything including his life so that he could offer us the same gift. If there was no risk in what he did, then there would have been no story to tell. No one tells of the time they went to the beach and lost a few pennies out of their pocket. But they do tell the stories where they lost things a bit more precious, like their wallet, keys, or wedding ring.
Faith is risky and stepping out in faith to give away what is precious seems even riskier. But with Christ at your side, you can follow the call that he puts in your heart and share the gifts that he has given you; knowing that you will enter into the joy of our master.