Pentecost 24 – Sunday, November 19, 2017

November 19, 2017  

Matthew 25:14-30

It isn’t unusual for the parables of Jesus to leave their listeners confused.

Jesus had a way of turning things around; Jesus gave stories unexpected twists that left his first centuries listeners wondering what in the world he was thinking.

Today, we have a story that appears to be about money. A master entrusts his slaves with varying amounts of money. They do different things with the money he has given them.

Back in the first century, a talent was the equivalent of what a common worker would earn in 15 years of labor.

Five talents was the equivalent of 75 years labor.

Doubling five talents in trade would have meant making the equivalent of 150 years labor. The first slave was quite the gambler. Consider the short life expectancies back in those days, he ended up with more money than he would have earned in several lifetimes.

The slave with two talents, which he doubled, gave his master a sixty-year equivalent income.

The problem slave in the parable is the third person. He was given one talent, worth 15 years labor. If a person in our times earned $25,000 a year, one talent would mean he was given $375,000.

We aren’t talking about pocket change, here. If this parable is about money, we are talking about a lot of it.

Whether the parable is really about money or not, certainly it is about a man giving other people something valuable. He entrusted them each with something of great value. He gave the valued thing to each of them for safe-keeping. Then he went away for a long time.

And he came back. He returned. He went to get back what he entrusted the other men with.

We know the rest of the story. We know the first two men took huge risks with the money they were given. They doubled the treasure. We know the man who entrusted them told them “Well done, good and trustworthy slave.”

Here’s the thing. Those two men did exactly what most people would not have done at the time. They gambled their wealth. Their gambling paid off, but it was still a great risk that they took.

The slave who buried the money he was given… that was what most people would have done. It was not uncommon at the time to bury wealth. It was like putting the money in a interest free account. It wasn’t gonna grow but it was safe.

He buried the money because he knew the master to be a harsh man. He was afraid. But because he returned the money without gain, he was told “You wicked and lazy slave.”

Just like 1st centuries Christians, we are waiting for the Risen Christ to return to the world. While we wait, what do we choose to do with the treasure God has provided us? What exactly IS the treasure God has provided us?

What is it that God wants us to share? What is it that God wants us to risk? How can we double its value?

Most obviously, God has given us all that we have and all that we are.

But—God’s greatest treasure was God’s gift of Jesus. God gave Jesus to the world knowing Jesus, God’s only Son, would die. God gave us Jesus knowing Jesus would conquer evil, conquer death, and bring us all the victory of eternal life. God gave us this precious treasure because God loves us. God loves the world. God’s deepest want for the world was and is redemption.

What do we do with the gifts God has given us? What do we do with God’s greatest gift. Do we bury God’s love somewhere, deep in our hearts and lives, hoarding it just for ourselves?

Or do we take God’s love out to the world, sharing it with others, multiplying God’s love in infinite ways?

In all actuality this is another stewardship sermon. But, this Sunday, I am asking how we steward God’s love.

Last Sunday I asked our youth to fill out talent resumes, telling me what they are good at and what they can do to help others. I was touched when I read them. I was touched by how caring our young people are. How generous. They want to listen to others, to help others, to make other people smile. We have good and generous young people in our midst, in part because they are being raised by this village of good and generous people.

Each of us has been given the greatest love we can ever receive. God loves us. We love each other. Let’s not keep our gift of love buried. Let’s share our gift of love. Let’s take risks with our gift of love. Let’s share it with others again, and again, and again… into eternity and beyond.

Amen.