Saturday, November 15, 2014

Proper 28

Proper 28
16 November 2014
Matthew 25:14-20
Are your talents at work?

Almighty and ever-living God, since You have given exceedingly great and precious promises to those who believe, grant us so perfectly and without all doubt to believe in Your Son Jesus Christ, that our faith in Your Son may never be reproved;
At the Cathedral in Lubeck Germany is found the following inscription:
Thus speaks Christ our Lord to us:
You call Me Master, and obey Me not;
You call Me Light, and see Me not;
You call Me Way, and walk Me not;
 You call Me Life, and desire Me not;
You call Me Wise, and follow Me not;
You call Me Fair, and love Me not;
You call Me Rich, and ask Me not;
You call Me Eternal, and seek Me not;
You call Me Gracious, and trust Me not;
You call me Noble, and serve Me not;
You call Me Mighty, and honor Me not;
You call Me Just, and fear Me not;
If I condemn you, blame Me not.[1]

The Master is taking off. Leaving three slaves in charge. He leaves them with more wealth to tend than you and I can possibly imagine. For the talents spoken of here are not aptitudes or abilities. They are, in fact, piles of gold coins. Bushel baskets full, in fact.

One talent of gold weighed between fifty and seventy-five pounds.  So even the 'least' of the slaves received enough that he may have been challenged to carry it all on his own.  These piles of gold were left with each one of them to tend, manage, and grow. And there is no growing without risk. There is simply no growing without risk.

Love and faith, like money, require the taking of risks in order to grow. Taking risks is not easy. Risks always require relationships. And relationships require opening ourselves to murky as well as mighty possibilities. 

These words of Jesus should be stinging to our ears. To those who have, more will be given, but for those who have not; even what they have will be taken away.  

Like these three slaves, God has richly blessed us in a thousand ways.  Indeed, our bushel baskets are so full we can't lift them on our own. God has given us all of it. He asks only that we use it, spend it, invest it, grow it.
 God has given it all to us. He only asks that we love and trust Him enough not to sit on it, hide it, or bury it.  So what are you afraid of? Or, for that matter, what are you waiting for?

Jesus speaks about your attitude. And the way you use what you have been given.  If it is your attitude that God, and life, are harsh and terrible masters, then like the servant, with only one talent, we turn away from risk, and hide ourselves from the promise and prospect of divine glory as if it were a delusion, or worse, as if it were only meant only for other people.

Yet Scripture is full of risks and challenges. Each time our Lord called a disciple it was in fact a challenge of faith. “Come follow me…I dare you to believe.” The crucifixion is a risk of faith. Here is your Lord, hanging on a cross…”I dare you to believe.” The empty tomb is a taunt. ”I live and so shall you…I dare you to believe.” The reason it is such a challenge is that it requires a belief in the absoluteness of the promises of our Lord.

“Keep mercy and justice and draw near to thy God always. You must therefore combine justice with mercy. Spending in mercy what you possess in justice. Because God loves mercy and justice, those who take care to do mercy and justice draw near to God. It remains, then for each to examine themselves and for the rich to take careful inventory of the private resources from which they are to offer gifts to God. To make sure that they have not oppressed poor people or used force against the weak, or cheated those dependent upon them, thus exercising license rather than justice.

Do not employ force because you are in command and do not take advantage of another because it is within your power to do so. On the contrary, show forth the deeds of justice because you are able to perform the deeds of power. Your fear of God and your obedience to Him are not exhibited in abstaining from acts beyond your ability, but in this - that being in a position to violate the law, you refuse to transgress it.

If you give alms to the poor after you have despoiled them of their goods, it were better for you neither to have taken or given.  God will have no part in avarice nor will the Lord be a comrade to thieves and robbers. He has not left us the poor to feed because He is unable to do this. But He asks from us, for our own good, the fruit of justice and mercy.[2]

God is not impressed with your awesomeness. Your works are always ambiguous but never arbitrary.  They are ambiguous as if our works make God stand up and take notice. As if they get us into heaven. Or make us look good. Or stand out. 

Neither are they arbitrary. They are always done according to faith. That’s what Christians do. They serve their neighbor. You live your life by serving your neighbor by acts of charity, mercy and sacrifice. Your works are played out according to the station of life you find yourself to be at. 

God does not need your works of mercy and acts of kindness. However, you neighbor needs you compassion desperately.  You are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ alone. By His stripes, suffered for you on the cross at Calvary - you are healed.  So be at peace with your neighbor. The day is surely drawing near. There will be a reckoning. And each shall give an account. Invest in the kingdom! But invest wisely.  

God guide me with thy wisdom,
God chastise me with thy justice,
God help me with thy mercy,
God protect me with thy strength,
God shield me with thy shade,
God fill me with thy grace
For the sake of thine anointed Son[3]
Words -1,078
Passive Sentences – 7%
Readability -82%
Reading Level -4.8

[1] For All the Saints A Prayer Book For and by the Church Volume IV pg. 1014 © 1996 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

[2]Basil the Great of Caesarea (329-379) On Mercy and Justice For All the Saints A Prayer Book For and by the Church Volume IV pp. 1058-1059 © 1996 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

[3] Scottish Celtic Prayer For All the Saints A Prayer Book For and by the Church Volume IV pg.1059 © 1996 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY 

No comments: