November 15, 2020

Message for November 15, 2020- “Let It Shine!”

(From Matthew 25: 14-30)

     I lift my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved. He will preserve you from evil. He will preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and forever more.  (Excerpts from Psalm 121).

     The Parable of the Talents has often been used to preach about two main areas of our faith life—stewardship and stepping out to use the gifts God has given us.  It holds a claim to matters of stewardship and wise financial practices because in this parable Jesus speaks directly about the utilization of money, as a talent was a monetary entity of his time.  It is often, however, also preached and taught as a message about utilizing the talents and gifts God has given us, and trading and growing them by offering them to our world rather than burying, hiding, and keeping them to ourselves.  Let us take some time to explore the Parable of the Talents as Jesus taught it to his Disciples and followers.

     In this parable, a certain man who was going on a journey summoned his servants and entrusted some of his property to them.  To one servant he gave 5 talents, to a second 2 talents, and to another 1 talent.  Then he went on his journey.  He returned after a long time to settle accounts with the servants. The servant to whom he had given 5 talents made five more; and, likewise the servant who had received 2 talents made 2 more.  The servant who had received one talent, however, had dug a hole, and he had buried his talent in it.

     The master of the servant to whom he had given 5 talents pleased him by making 5 more talents, as did the servant who received 2 talents and made 2 more.  The servant who had buried his 1 talent in the ground displeased the master.  He had done nothing with it. He claimed that he was afraid to trade it, and so chose to bury it instead.  The master had in return exactly what he had entrusted to the servant.  The master of that servant reminded him that he could have at least invested his 1 talent with bankers where it would have gained interest above the investment.  The master took the 1 talent away from that servant and he rewarded the servant who had traded and built his 5 talent portfolio up to 10 talents.

    This parable, like all of Jesus’ parables, was a teaching about the kindom of God (inclusive language for kingdom).  From this parable, we can discern that there are a variety of talents in the kindom of God, as not all of the servants in the parable were given the exact same number by their master.  The expectation of the master was that each servant would utilize, trade and grow the talents that he was given.  At the very least, they should be invested them to gain interest; and never, never, should they be hidden or buried with no opportunity to produce an increase.  And so it is with the kindom of God.  God does not want us to become fearful and hide our talents, financial or otherwise.  God desires that we grow our portfolio of talents by using them. That is how we build and grow God’s kindom.

    Sharing our personal testimonies regarding God’s activity in our lives is a powerful tool we have for the up-building of our community. This morning, I would like to share a testimony as an illustration of Jesus’s parable teaching for believers.  This week, I had to do one of the hardest things that has ever been asked of me.  I had to be deposed (legaleeze) as an expert witness in a product liability lawsuit for a sister company within the corporation that employs me. Believe me, it is a terrifying feeling to be “under oath” to speak the truth on behalf of a billion dollar corporation.  I was chosen as the one with the talent to be used in support of the corporation.  In this case, either way you interpret a talent from today’s parable, I was the responsible party.  I was to use the intellectual talent my years of experience had accumulated in order to minimize the number of talents/dollars my company would need to pay as product liability—so they can keep more of their talents/dollars.  Like the servant with one talent, I was very tempted to run and dig a big hole to safely hide and preserve my talent.  What if I am not effective with my talent, and the result costs my corporation a big number of talents/dollars?  I began to pray…“Please God, help me to be calm, help me to be wise, help me to be strong.  Let me feel the comfort of your presence with me, upholding me in this time of need.”  Well Church, the deposition was short, thank God for that gift, and God helped me to make it through.  I answered every question with a confidence I did not know I could possess.  It was all the result of God working in me, growing in me, when I chose to trust in the talent God had given me and share it with this sector of the world. 

   So, where does our help come from?  Why it comes from the Lord God.  How is that help manifested in us?  It becomes evident to the world when we choose to trust it enough to risk using our talents by sharing rather than by hiding them.   For, we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us.  Using our talents, sharing them with the world, can help us to build the kindom of God.  I wore my cross to the deposition so that all would know that I was a person of faith, one whose talent was a gift from God to be used.  I believe it pleases our Master when we step out in faith as people of faith, even when times are difficult and the outcome seems uncertain.  So church, let us step out in faith, trusting and using our talents and growing them for God’s kindom as we share them with our world. Our talent is our God-given light—let it shine!  Amen—may it be so.     

Hymn- “This Little Light of Mine” (UMH # 585) (words and music from Afro-American spiritual) This little light of mine, I’m goin’-a let it shine, this little light of mine, I’m goin’-a let it shine;  this little light of mine, I’m goin’-a let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.