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Using Your Special Talents

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

19 November 2023

Year A

Sermon By: Rev. Rose Sapp-Bax

Judges 4:1-7

Psalm 123

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Matthew 25:14-30

Sunday Cycle of Prayer

The Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma)

St. Stephen’s Church, Lakeland

Shepherd of the Hills Church, Lecanto

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

In last week’s episode of The Chosen, which we watch here in the parish hall each Tuesday night, we watched the story of the Pool of Bethseda. In this theatrical version of the story, we witnessed the life of the man Jesus healed - before we find him at the pool. Although scripture does not name the man, or give other identifiable information about him, he is portrayed in the production, as Simon’s brother - before Simon becomes a disciple of Jesus. And is given the name Jesse. As we watched the story play out, we see the events unfold in perfect timing - a timing some might call coincidence. After the episode was over, we talked about the events that happened and agreed that there was NO coincidence, but only Divine intervention.

Are you someone who witnesses events in your life or in life in general, and remarks at the coincidence - or do you see the amazing things in life and credit the timing to God’s intervention? God’s perfect timing? Whichever way you regard such events, we are experiencing one of those occurrences this morning. At first glance, you may not see the correlation, but let’s look at today’s gospel parable in light of what we heard from Tim last week, just a few minutes ago, and what we read in our Stewardship letter. What are the chances that the Stewardship message and today’s gospel lesson could be related? Whether by coincidence or Divine intervention, I realized that I could not have picked a better scripture to demonstrate the true meaning of Stewardship.

As we look at the parable, we find that three slaves have been entrusted with wealth of their master. But, just how much are we talking about here? Well, depending on the reference you use, a single talent was worth somewhere between 15 and 30 years’ wages for the average laborer. With the life expectancy of laborers in those days, a single talent might indeed represent a lifetime of wages.

A lifetime - another coincidence? That’s a lot of responsibility!

But not each slave was entrusted with the same amount - one was entrusted with 5 talents, one with 2 and the final slave with 1 talent - according to his ability, scripture tells us. This means that the master knew the abilities of each of the slaves and entrusted amounts according to that known ability.

Isn’t that just what Stewardship is? How do WE handle the treasures entrusted to us by God? You will notice the wording used here - treasures that are entrusted to us - not given, but entrusted. None of our possessions are truly ‘possessed’ by is. There is no material property that is truly ours - even our earthly bodies are entrusted to us. We often boast about those things we own - things we feel entitled to use as we desire, because “we earned them with our own money and hard work”. But like the slaves in this parable, the truth is, those things, that wealth, our possessions are all entrusted to us by God. Now, we may have used what God entrusted to us, we may have invested God’s gifts to create more wealth, but just as in the parable - ALL ultimately belongs to God.

Now, we can take the words of this scripture even deeper, if we dare. Is the parable referring to more than material things - more than financial wealth? Indeed, all that we have is given to us by God. The very breath in our lungs, belongs to God - and as we are all too aware, it can be gone in a split second. Our abilities, our talents, our skills, our potential, our very lives are all God’s gift to us - entrusted to us to use for His glory, for the growth of His kingdom, in very much the same way the slaves were to grow the kingdom of their Master. When we too, use our gifts in the way they were intended, then, we too are invited to join in the joy of our Master. Imagine what it might feel like to be invited to share in God’s joy - a joy we get to bring to HIM! It is, in reality, the only gift we can give back to God. It is our way of showing gratitude for HIS gifts to us.

Stewardship could therefore be thought of as our mindset - a mindset that spurs us into action. It should become our joy to use the gifts we are given to bring joy back to the Giver. If we can find this mindset, we use our talents, our skills, our potential, our material goods, yes, even our financial wealth, to give back to our Master - to build the kingdom of God becomes our joy.

When we look back at the parable, we might ask why one slave was entrusted with only ONE talent? Perhaps that answer comes when we consider HOW each slave handled the treasure entrusted to him. The two who use their resources wisely and to the joy and benefit of the Master were called to share in His joy. The Master’s joy becomes their joy.

So what of that slave who took the treasure entrusted to him, and buried it? How often are we guilty of the same action? How often do we fail to live up to our potential - to use the talents given to us? Interesting, isn’t it, that the word is used for this great unit of money from so long ago, is the same word used when talking about our intrinsic gifts. Another coincidence?

Why did the 3rd slave simply hide what was entrusted to him? We cannot deny the risk undertaken when we invest or use that which is entrusted to us. The slaves in the parable risked losing their investment. Yet, two of them were willing to risk what was entrusted to them to bring joy to their master. . . .But fear caused the third to bury his treasure.

What about us? We, too, encounter risk when we step out to use what is entrusted to us - whether it is a financial risk or a personal risk when we step outside our comfort zone, using our skills and talents to grow God’s kingdom. But the difficult question is - are we ALL in? Do we let the fear win or Do we trust God enough? He has already given His ALL for us, now it is our turn to give back. If not, then we choose the same fate as the third slave. Like that slave, we, too, will miss out on sharing the joy of the Father. What we share is the fate of that third slave - we choose the outer darkness - a place void of God’s joy. So, their choice is ours - do we choose complacency - living in our hidden fear? satisfied with the fleeting moments of this life - thinking only of today’s comfort? or do we step out in faith - risking the transitory things of this world for the eternal joy that we can share with the Father?

I invite you this week, as we are reminded to give Thanks for all the blessings we have received, let us also take time to search our hearts and minds, trusting and asking God how we can share those blessings of time, talent and treasure to grow His kingdom. and to share in His joy.

This is our Stewardship journey. What will you choose?


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