The parable of the talents…..


We are closing in the on the holidays already which doesn’t seem possible.  Soon we will be in the season of Advent in the church, a season of waiting and anticipation of Christ’s return. 

Like last week’s scripture, today’s scripture is about what we do while we wait for Christ’s return.  Today’s scripture is titled, “The Parable of the Talents.”

At this point in Matthew’s gospel Christ is in his final days.  He has returned to Jerusalem for the last time.  His final parables in Matthew’s account are about what we are to be doing while waiting for his return.

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.

 A talent was a measure of weight in biblical times.  The master of the estate was incredibly wealthy.  A talent is about 75 pounds of precious metal.  75 pounds.  An ounce of gold today is worth around $1,300. 

If you do the math a talent or 75 pounds of gold today is worth around $1.5 million dollars.  That is one talent, the first servant got five and the second servant got two. 

What does scripture say that the master of the estate did after giving this large amount of money to his servants…….He went away.  He didn’t give them any instructions.  He just gave it to them.  It seems apparent that he trusts them to be wise with it.

Helluva nice guy isn’t he.  What if I were to tell you that the master in this parable is Christ, he left but not before giving a bounty to his people?  What if I told you that the servants in this parable were you and I? 

That we have been given a treasure or a talent in the form of intellect, knowledge, life experience, talent, time, our ability to earn and a ton of his grace to boot?

And what if I told you that someday we will have to account for what we did with our God-given talent?  I will come back to that.

The master of the estate, he just left.  No directions, no instructions.  The servants were free to do what they would with what they were entrusted with, much like we are.  I want to talk about this for a minute.

Our God, the God that we serve limits himself in this parable and he does this often.  He limits himself so that others have an opportunity to lead and flourish. 

Christ, being of the same spiritual substance of The Father, came to this earth in the same limited manner that we exist, in flesh and blood.  Bound by time and space among other things. 

He limited himself as a penniless, itinerant carpenter turned preacher who emptied himself of his divinity to take on our broken condition.  He goes beyond limiting himself, he completely emptied himself.

He lived like the poorest of the poor with the poorest of the poor and spent his time with the lowest of the low.  Now, Christ did heal people, he performed miracles, he brought people that were dead back to life. 

But he lives his time on this earth consistently restrained.  And why would he do that………Is it because he hands the keys to the kingdom over to us, to each one of us?  That he wants each one of us to be about his work.

Is it because we are in his final days in the book of Matthew and he is making sure to make his point that he is leaving and these are the expectations for those who profess to know him?

God calls us to lead in one form or another.  Leadership isn’t about titles, we are called to lead our families, our church, our community, our school and many other things.

We weren’t made to sit on the sidelines idly watching the world go by.  Here is another window into my cynical and twisted mind.  In my experience in different leadership positions those that sat idly by, not only did they not help, they consistently attacked, smeared and hurled insults at the ones trying to get things done. 

Enough of that.  We are called to lives of service.  He are called to lead, we are called to be in ministry and we are called to be the light in this world.  We don’t retire from Christian service.  As long as there is air in our lungs we are called to be of service to the church.

After leaving his servants to do what they would with his money, the master returned.  “The one who had received the five talents had gone off and traded and made five more talents.”  He had doubled his master’s money.

“In the same way, the one who had been given two talents made two more talents.”  He also had doubled his master’s money.  Pretty impressive, do you know how much time it would take to double your money – legally?

“But the one who had received one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”  After a long time the master, or Christ in this example, returns.  He is anxious to see what his people have done with what he has entrusted them with.

The one given five talents had pleased his master, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant, you have been trustworthy in a few things.  I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.”  Enter into the kingdom and splendor of God’s presence.

The one given two talents had also pleased his master and is greeted the same, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant, you have been trustworthy in a few things.  I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.”

The servant given one talent had to give his account of what he had done with what he had been given.  This servant’s response appears to be more of a reflection on his own character than the nature of the God we serve.

“Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, gathering where you did not scatter seed, so I was afraid and I hid your talent in the ground.  Here you have what is yours.” 

The third servant, the one given one talent sat idly by.  After many years, maybe even a lifetime he had not been about his master’s work.  I envision this servant shrugging his shoulders as he hands the money back and then goes on the offensive about how it isn’t really his fault.  It is the master’s fault, it is God’s fault that I didn’t do anything productive with what he gave me.

The master was not happy.  “You wicked and lazy servant!  You knew, did you that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter seed?  Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received it with interest.”

“Take the talent from him and give it to the one with 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 servant, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

A warning parable about the accounting we will have to do when Christ returns.  Everyone is gifted whether they think they are or not.  The gifts we are given vary from person to person, no one gift is better or more important than another.  Those gifts are not to be wasted or to sit idle.

In this season of Thanksgiving, as we approach Advent and the celebration of Christ’s birth, let us be about God’s work in this world.  Let us feed, clothe and minister to the poor.  Let us be the church.  Let us be the light, the city on a hill that give sight to the blind and ears to hear for those that need to know our God.

Pastor Shawn LaRue, Seymour UMC

Author of Incomplete

 

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PNEUMA


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This void in my heart
Infinite chasm, beyond repair
looking inward
where does this pain come from?

secret lies and hidden thoughts
A morbid disease of the soul
in a desert of lascivious pride
black is the color of my true love

perfidious, feckless, fickle
Vegetating in this slump
Wallowing in the wastelands
of imperfect asymmetry

Arms unfurled
I look up at the night sky
Searching, yearning for recompense
Remission for sins untold

Grace perfected,
Sweat that bleeds red
pain embraced, the agony of love
Slaughter of the lamb, forgiveness drawn
Rain falls, showers that be

where embers glow, transmuting the pneuma
this is the place of reconciliation
propitiation in place of death
humble, but exalting and exalted

 

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Failure to launch


Don’t you just hate it when you can’t seem to catch a break. Wouldn’t you like to be the envy of people. Sadly for you, that will never happen, because you are not perfect. You will never be like your pastor or the cousin who is now the CXO of some corporation; that friend who keeps hopping on jet planes or dream to walk under the shadow of that perfect parent.   No, you are destined to be imperfect, always under the scrutiny of some watchful eye. you are the outcasts:- addicts, child molestors, murderers, prostitutes.

It’s hard, isn’t it when you put an addict  and a child molestor on the same pedestal. Can we actually forgive a murderer?

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Sin doesn’t come in sizes.  For all have sinned and come short of the glory of GOD ( Rom 3:23 )

Yet we are happy to compartmentalize.

Some people are born with a silver spoon. They are born into richness. Much like that, some of us are born with a blessed character. Doing God’s will comes natural. Just like the prodigal son’s brother.  It does not mean that GOD sees the rest of us as any different.

“Its not the sin that will condemn us or kill us, but the resignation to the faith that we  are unforgivable”

Know then that GOD cares for us the vile sinners just as much as he cares for the good fellas. Its simple, if you had two pets, one pedegreed to the highest order and the other one a rescue pup from the local canine shelter… would you care more for the pedegreed animal. It’s the same with GOD. Know this then, if your sins are many, you are likely to fall in love with GOD so much more than your perfect earthly father or your famous pastor.

Next time you are on a binge, doing your most favourite sin, don’t just stand/sit there idle, let your heart cry out to GOD and ask him for his forgiveness and your deliverance, just like the canannite women who begged for the scraps from the Lord’s table,  or the woman who loved GOD more because her sins were many. You deserve life with the full measure of happiness that GOD intends you to have. Don’t let that imperfection stop you.

I don’t think you heard me the first time. PRAY beore you commit the sin, as you commit the sin and after you commit the sin. GOD hears you every single time and he is sending you help as we speak. As long as you pray, there is hope for a better life [ever after!!!].

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” :Rom 8:1

“No Strings Attached”

PS: You should be gratefull because  you are lucky to know that you have an issue that can be addressed. The real failure is when you don’t know what your issue is. The world has yet to catchup on pride, greed, jealousy etc. It would be a shame if you were perfect in the world’s eyes, but a complete failure in the eyes of your creator.

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Of men & beasts


Ever since I was young, I have wondered, what makes us different from animals? We say we can communicate  with each other, that we care for our young ones. We show empathy, love and anger. But, does that make us any different from an animal? In fact they are capable of showing much less the same to their own kind.

So then it makes sense; the theory of evolution is not so far fetched. The fact that we have so many things in common with animals, right down to our molecular structure!!!. Why do we hold on to the notion that we are different or special. I believe in the Bible, but I find that I am more or less at odds with the book of Genesis.

I am also reminded that Enoch walked with GOD. Therefore it is also likely that the first man Adam & Eve walked with GOD. Irrespective of whether this implied physically walking with GOD or walking in faith with GOD, It does imply a certain intimacy.   But what was it? Was it like the way we share time with our pets? Eating scraps from the table? Sleeping with us on our beds? These are  intimate moments? Yet it does not convey the same intimacy as walking with another person.

As I pondered, I heard David Jeremiah on the radio, he was talking about Isaiah 1:18;

“Come now, and let us reason together”

It was  a light bulb moment for me. Everything in the Bible suddenly made sense. We are different, not because we are more intelligent, not because we can sing melodious songs or because we can build rocket ships that can take us to the edge of the universe.

It all started on the day that GOD created us.  We are  different because we can tell right from wrong; that innate feeling of guilt that we cannot escape from when we wrong others. We  are different because we can reason with each other, because we were created in his image.

And so it wouldn’t be surprising if GOD walked with man in the Garden of Eden. He didn’t create a puppet. He created a person with whom he could have a relationship. A person that can be reasoned with.  A person who was free to choose to not abide by that relationship.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”: Psalm 139:14

We are indeed different, because we were created by a person who made it his will to know us intimately from the beginning of time to the end of it.

 

 

 

Peacemakers Vs. Cowards


When I was young, I was trained to respect myself. Traditionally this would be mean that I would have to be quick on my feet and mind. To be able to respond to people with an equal measure of aggression or more. To be able to show people that you can’t be messed with and if they did they would learn lessons real fast.

If you did’t have any of the above mentioned qualities, you are more likely to be taken advantage of and be disenfranchised. In simple words you are likely a coward or a wimp.

So, this is where my world collides with reality. I am not an aggressive person, neither am I quick on my feet or mind. When a hot head riles me up, I am more likely to be stunt not knowing how to respond. Even when I know that I have been gravely wronged, I am still framing responses, while the other person has accused me, labelled me and assigned me his fair share of punishment and is already on his way.

All my life I have been beating myself up, because of my inability to respond to people in kind. More than the hurt inflicted by another person, I hate myself because of my inability to respond in an equal manner of aggression or hostility.  I can’t help myself, because I can’t find a means to release my anger.

Recently something happened and I was extremely mad at the person who hurt me, but even more mad at myself. I just did’t know what to do. Then out of the blue, I heard [Translation: A quick thought flew through my head] the words Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of GOD: Mat 5:9”. The words stuck; and a realization followed.

I have had people say that I am a coward, that I can’t stand up for myself. It’s true, but this new realization has prompted me to understand that the real reason I refuse to jump into the fray is because I dislike confrontations. I am trying to find a peaceful means of resolving a situation. It is not something that I have been doing consciously, it was more of a sub conscious decision. Hence my knee jerk reaction has always been to avoid confrontations and find a peaceful solution.

I have now found peace. I will no longer blame myself or be angry again because of my inability to react with aggression because I know I will be called a child of GOD. That was Jesus’ promise.

Hold that thought because, I am now wondering weather I am a peacemaker or a pain avoid-er… hmm m  I  am lost again…

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