CREATED, SAVED AND GIFTED BY GOD, WE SEEK, SERVE AND SHARE JESUS CHRIST.
Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
November 15, 2020
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
901 East Stroop Road
Kettering, OH 45429-4688
Our readings during November speak of the end times. Zephaniah proclaims that the coming day of the Lord will be filled with wrath and distress. Paul says it will come like a thief in the night and urges us to be awake and sober. Jesus tells the parable of the talents, calling us to use our gifts, while we still have time, for the greater and common good. In a world filled with violence and despair, we gather around signs of hope—word, water, bread and wine—eager to welcome the good news of Christ’s coming among us.
A Significant Trust
On one level we can read the parable of the talents and see a simple lesson: A property owner entrusts property to his workers and goes away. The workers respond in different ways to this trust, and he responds to them in different ways upon his return. The third is paralyzed by fear. We ought not fear putting the gifts God has given us to work for good in our world.
There is another depth to this story found in the property entrusted to the workers: One is given five talents, the second two talents, and the third only one talent. We are told this is according to their ability. How much was a talent? In our culture, where we have coins and bills for our currency, this last worker seems to be entrusted with pocket change. A talent, however, was not a denomination of currency in the way we might understand. A talent was more than fifteen years’ wages for a laborer. Fifteen years!
For illustration purposes, let us assume a laborer today makes $10 an hour. If a person works forty hours per week with two weeks of vacation, a year’s wages would be $20,000. Fifteen years of wages would be $300,000. This would be one talent. Two talents would be $600,000; five would be $1,500,000.
Why all this math? What we see in the value of the talents are significant amounts of property entrusted to the workers—even the one with the least ability. What is beautiful in this story is the trust the property owner has in his workers. His disappointment with the third shows the trust to be sincere. What if this one had trusted himself as much as the property owner did?
Psalm 139 tells us we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Perhaps this parable is an invitation for us to believe in ourselves as much as God believes in us, and thus experience the joy our loving Creator already has for us.
The Holy Spirit calls us together as the people of God.
CONFESSION & FORGIVENESS
All may make the sign of the cross, the sign that is marked at baptism, as the presiding minister begins.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.
Most merciful God, we confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.
God, who is rich in mercy, loved us even when we were dead in sin, and made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved. In the name of Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven. Almighty God strengthen you with power through the Holy Spirit, that Christ may live in your hearts through faith.
HYMN – Where Streams of Living Justice
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
And also with you.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Righteous God, our merciful master, you own the earth and all its peoples, and you give us all that we have. Inspire us to serve you with justice and wisdom, and prepare us for the joy of the day of your coming, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
God speaks to us in scripture reading, preaching, and song.
FIRST READING Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
Zephaniah (like the prophet Amos in last week’s first reading) presents the day of the Lord as one of judgment and wrath. Descriptions of the last day in the New Testament include details taken from Old Testament accounts of the day of the Lord.
A reading from the book of Zephaniah.
Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is at hand; the LORD has pre- pared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests. At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, “The LORD will not do good, nor will he do harm.” Their wealth shall be plundered, and their houses laid waste. Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them. The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter, the warrior cries aloud there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. I will bring such distress upon people that they shall walk like the blind; because they have sinned against the LORD, their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’s wrath; in the fire of his passion the whole earth shall be consumed; for a full, a terrible end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.
SECOND READING 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Though we do not know and cannot calculate the day of Christ’s return, we live faithfully in the here and now as we anticipate the day when we will be given eternal salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
A reading from the book of 1 Thessalonians.
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.
GOSPEL Matthew 25:14-30
Jesus tells a parable about his second coming, indicating that it is not sufficient merely to main- tain things as they are. Those who await his return should make good use of the gifts that God has provided them.
The holy gospel according to Matthew. Glory to you, O Lord.
[Jesus said to the disciples:] “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.’ ”
The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
HYMN OF THE DAY – When Peace Like a River
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
Longing for Christ’s reign to come among us, we pray for the outpouring of God’s power on the church, the world, and all in need.
A brief silence.
Each intercession concludes: Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Receive our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, until that day when you gather all creation around your throne where you will reign forever and ever.
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is indeed right and good that we should everywhere and always offer thanks and praise to you, holy God, mighty and immortal, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who on this day broke the bonds of death, opening to us the way of everlasting life and giving us a foretaste of the feast to come.
In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.
Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.
Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
INVITATION TO COMMUNION
There is a place for you at the banquet. Come and feast at Jesus’ table.
The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bless you and always keep you in God’s grace.
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
Lord Jesus, in this simple meal you have set a banquet. Sustain us on the journey, strengthen us to care for the least of your beloved children, and give us glad and generous hearts as we meet you on the way.
God blesses us and sends us in mission to the world.
May the God of all creation, in whose image we are made, who claims us and calls us beloved, who strengthens us for service, give you reason to rejoice and be glad! The blessing of God, Sovereign, Savior, and Spirit, be with you today and always.
SENDING HYMN – Soon and Very Soon
Make a commitment to not only worship each week but also try to find a way to serve in the congregation and seek out a way to serve our community.
YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE MISSION FIELD
Elizabeth of Hungary, renewer of society, died 1231
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Born in Hungary, Elizabeth was betrothed to the son of the Landgrave of Thuringia, and at age four was taken to be raised with him at the Wartburg Castle. Ten years later they were married. She was very generous to the poor, and after her husband’s death she lived in cruel hardship until her own death at age twenty-four.