Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Matthew 25:14-30

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.

Now let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord, our strength and Redeemer


Do you ever worry about wasting your potential? I do all the time. I try to do a good job as the pastor at GSLC, being a partner to my spouse, and being a good citizen in the community. But inevitably I drop some of the many balls that I try to juggle faithfully. Thank God for grace. But sometimes, do you ever feel like there’s just too much going on?
We are meant for sabbath rest and for wholeness in rest. We aren’t the sum total of what we do in the world. Instead, we are creatures, lovingly created by God who loves us before we can do anything to seek to earn that love. At the same time, we are called to produce much fruit for the kingdom of heaven through our trusting in Jesus. This week, we read Scripture that encourages us to produce fruit, not out of a place of desperation or by trying to earn salvation but as a response to who God is and what God has done for us.


What I find engaging in this parable isn’t the talents monetary or skills—and more about the tension of risk vs. fear. Matthew’s placement of this parable invites us to ask the question, as we await Christ’s return, what will we do with what has been entrusted to us?
The parable presents us with three servants, each entrusted with the supervision of an absurd amount of money by their master. The first two each present the master with the same return and receive the same reward.
The third one, on the other hand, greets the master with the news that he “knew the master to be harsh man, reaping what he did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter. So in fear he went and hid the talent in the ground” (25:24-25). Luke’s telling of the parable leaves us here, left wondering if the master who gave his servants untold wealth was in fact a harsh man, or if the servant was lazy and should be judged harshly. Matthew places this parable when Jesus is teaching his followers how to live in the time between his ascension and his return. It’s always key to remember that this is a text for how believers are to live, not a lesson for outsiders about how to become part of the community, because this text is meant to challenge us.
As we seek to be God’s people in the world, it is so easy to fall into the temptation of the third servant and hold the status quo rather than risking failure. And the third servant had less than the other two, but he still had fifteen years’ worth of wages to work with. Faced with the challenges of our world, racism, poverty, wars, a rapidly changing climate, the talent we can bring to these problems seems so small. Isn’t it better to stay quiet, to not say the wrong thing, rather than blow something up with our efforts? This text not just encourages us, it challenges us, to take the risk. To speak up against injustice, to advocate for our environment, to call out for peace. And because we read this parable not in isolation but through the lens of all of scripture, we know that if we fail, when we fail, because of Christ we can try again. So read this parable for the challenge it is, and find the courage to make the leap.


Our gospel lesson is an interesting exploration of this question of faith versus fear. I know this text is used often as a stewardship text but to me it is not about money and investment strategies.
It is about our God-given abilities and opportunities, and the fear and lack of faith in God that keep us from using them. In the parable, the third servant, the one who received only one talent, took that talent and buried it in the yard. Why? Well, he said “I was afraid.”
The key element in this story is simple—the third servant did not believe and trust that he could take refuge in his master, therefore he was terrified of failing and being punished. So he did all he could to avoid failing. My best friend loves basketball. He told me once that the worst thing that can happen to a team takes place in their heads, not in their hands. “When a team begins to play with fear in their eyes, when instead of playing to win they start playing not to lose, that’s when they’re in real trouble.” The third servant played not to lose. He was afraid to take chances, afraid to risk anything. He did not trust his master, the only thing he trusted was himself and a hole in his backyard.
As I said this text is not about money and investment strategies to me, it is about fear and faith. It was written to the early church about 50 years after the death of Jesus. Christ had gone away at the Ascension, and had promised to come back. And the church waited, and waited, and waited. And he did not come back, not yet anyway. And the question arose “What should we be doing while we wait?” Some thought that the church should “hunker down” and protect the pure gospel, keep it safe, preserve it, and the “little flock” with it, until the Lord’s return. Others remembered Jesus’ words about going out into the world and making disciples, “We should spread the good news!” they said. The first group countered- “That could be dangerous, we’ve got everybody against us, we could lose everything. It’s better if we just keep our heads down and play it safe.” and so the discussion went.
Matthew took a story from Jesus and applied it to this problem. Matthew’s answer to this question is echoed by Luther’s— “trust, believe, take refuge in” God. Christ called upon us to take up a cross-that means we are to be about very risky business in following the Lord’s lead. It is risky to love the unloveable, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to house the homeless, to spend what we have accumulated for ourselves on others, to risk what we put aside our own future life in order to provide for the lives of those in need now. We cannot not bury the good news of Jesus Christ in the backyard of the church, keeping it alive for ourselves alone. We must take risks: personal risks, congregational risks, relational risks, and yes, sometimes financial risks, for the life and love of others —whether we think they deserve it or not.
What are we to do with our time, talent, and treasure while we wait for the Lord to return? Our talent is the gospel and we have been taught how to use it and we are expected to be about gospel business until that moment when we meet the Lord; either when he returns, or more likely when we die and go to him.


Here we are. Jesus taught the gospel to twelve disciples, then he left, promising to come back. The twelve taught it to people, who taught it to people, who taught it to people, etc, etc, until someone taught it to us. And all these folks waited for Jesus. While waiting, they stayed busy teaching the gospel, living the gospel, taking risks for the gospel. And now it’s our turn. So what do we do while we’re waiting?
Our mission statement is Come & See —but this isn’t an invitation to see our programs and worship experience, this is an opportunity for people to come & see us and how we use the talents God has given us. As we continue to teach others about the love of God that has been taught to us.
We want people to Come & See God in a meaningful way. That way is shown by how they are treated when they come and how they see we are using God’s gifts to better this world.
Our time has come. The basket is before us. What will we put in it? Will we put in only our fear and anxiety, allowing them to hold us back from taking a risk for Christ? Or, will we drop our guard in the presence of the holy and step boldly into the center of God’s will and way; giving to God the one thing God really, really wants, our complete and total trust and love?