Living Jesus’ Dream

Matthew 25:14-30

The Parable of the Talents

‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 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. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Pent22 / John Stiles / Holy Cross Lutheran Church / 11-13-11

Children’s time: What can you do with a piece of paper? Well you can crumple it up into a ball and play catch. You can write a poem on it or draw a picture. You can give someone directions so they can come to your birthday party. You could use this paper to start a fire. It might be made into slips of paper so the family can draw names at Thanksgiving (Who am I getting a present for at Christmas?). You could even fold it up into different shapes or make an airplane to fly. The same is true with God’s gifts.   In our lesson today, the master gave the slave some money and rather than using if for good, he buried it in the sand!  God has given you a life to live and if all you see is “a plain old piece of paper” you’ve missed what it could really be in this life! You were meant to fly! Let’s not bury the ways God made us special.  Let’s ask God for ways we can shine: Dear God, help us to find the best way to live our life this day – and to see new ways to serve you! Amen.

Intro: Dear friends in Christ: grace to you and peace, from the One who is and who was and who is to come: our living Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

When I read today’s lessons I almost thought we were in the season of Advent – that time just before Christmas when we’re called to “stay awake” an “be watchful” for the coming Christ. They are lessons about a stern reminder: The Day of the Lord never ends well. Why? Because when someone falls asleep and isn’t ready for the master’s return, we all suffer. That night’s not gonna be a good night. It’s not gonna be a good, good night.

And yet, through it all, there is God taking care of those who put their trust in God. Those who obey – who still believe – who’ve been watching and waiting faithfully. Those who have put their talents to good use – even risking an investment, never sure what the outcome will be. That saying: nothing ventured nothing gained applies to this parable, in which some servants invested their master’s money while another simply buried it in the sand.

Last week, in the comic strip Blondie, Dagwood Bumstead visits a pizza place with his wife where he recognizes one of the employees: “Hey, didn’t you used to work in my office building?” “Yeah, but I always wanted my own pizza shop, so I followed my dream. I mean, what good is life if you don’t follow your dream?” On the way out Blondie says, “I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your pizza, dear.” “The pizza was fine,” says Dagwood “but from now on, we’re having it delivered.”

You ever feel that way – wondering if you’ll kick the bucket before you get to that bucket list of things you need to do in this life? We all have dreams. But the call to be faithful is about more than fulfilling our dreams. It’s about following Jesus dream that all would be saved.

This one, who entered the world as a little baby, raised by a common carpenter, who taught and healed and showed us a new way to live, sends us to invite others to know the transforming power of God.

Dagwood is on to something. But he would rather stay home and not have to meet people who are actually living out the dream. The difference is – it’s not our dream in the first place: it’s God’s dream. All that we’re given: our talents, our money, our possessions, our time – all belongs to the LORD. We have no right to decide what to do with this amazing gift of God’s grace and mercy – this unconditional love and acceptance – this power of the Holy Spirit. Who are we to be holding it in our hands as the mast walks away, as the scripture says, “for a long time.”

It’s easier to stay home and bury it. To lock grace up in a cabinet well beyond anyone’s reach – even our own.

But we know better than that. We, who have experienced the undeserved smile – the hand upon the cheek (not slapping or patting condescendingly, but lifting up our chin with confidence and encouragement). That is the charge in our second lesson: “Encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” (1Thess. 5:11)

This is the calling of the slaves entrusted with the master’s talents: to share them, to invest them, to stay awake to the wonder of this life: a deer stepping into an open meadow at dawn, a surprise gift from your boss or coworker, as stirring crescendo on the organ or through the voices of a choir.

Why would anyone hide what the master has given? Hiding is a sign that something isn’t right. There’s shame and hurt involved. Denial and violence. Hurtful words and actions. Adam and Eve hid from God when their eyes were open to the sin they had committed. And it happens today whenever we live in fear. Hiding, even when the welfare of our children is at stake, as in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal.

What does the wicked slave say about the one talent he was given to invest? “I was afraid and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” What a waste of a life. And of one’s talents.

Fear has a way of messing with the mission of God. They say the twin enemies of ministry are worry and flurry. Worry constipates our energy and flurry dissipates it. I might also add a third one in this screen-obsessed-culture in which we live: blurry, which is how our eyes get when we’ve had too much screen time.

Somewhere in between “doing nothing” except burying our talents – and doing everything like a busy Martha who has no time to stop and sit at Jesus’ feet – we find our way to invest these talents entrusted to us. But it doesn’t happen without risk.

Our bishop, Peter Rogness, preached on this text about “God’s economics” at a gathering this week of pastors and church workers. He said this lesson goes way beyond pledge cards and time & talent forms (though they are certainly a part of the talents entrusted to us). Here we see that belonging to the master means risking the investment of our lives. Our whole lives belong to God. We don’t own a single dime of what we have. Not one hair on our heads. But there it all is – a whole life just waiting for us to live it. There it is – a richness unmatched by anything Wall Street can produce. Each day is full of minutes and hours that we decide on how to use – to dedicate them to what matters most.

How could you stay home (with Dagwood) and have it delivered? Better to stay awake and not be held back in fear. Let us risk being ridiculed or persecuted and try living this dream rather than laying it away.

God calls you out – yes YOU! to invest the amazing gift of grace you now hold in your hands, shining as a precious jewel for all to see and share and believe.
Amen.

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2 Comments on “Living Jesus’ Dream”

  1. Julie Says:

    Awesome message, John. Jayzz

    Like

  2. bluejeremiah Says:

    Thanks, Jayzz! 😉

    Like


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