Sermon for 15 Nov 2020

Using your Talents in the best Way – Service for Nov 15 – without video
As you get older you tend to forget things -now where was I going on that? Oh ya. One of the advantages is that you have forgotten some of the things that you once thought you could, do so you don’t feel guilty about not doing it.
Don’t you remember when your parents told you use your skills. The common line was “Use it or Lose it”. And you wonder now what would have happened if you really had continued to practice the piano.
The scripture passage today has been used for that exact purpose for 2000 years. Every parent has said that to their child. You have a talent and if you just bury it in the ground you will suffer. I think that secretly every parent is hoping that their child will be the one to have huge talent and make lots of money like the first servant. Then the parents will get huge rewards.
You have to wonder if all the knights at the round table, like Sir-Cumference, heard as a child – “Use it or Lose it”
If we look at the story we see Jesus relaying an image that is supposed to help his followers in the days ahead. This is included in the eschatological literature section. Along with other stories it is talking about the end-times and his supposed return. He is encouraging them to use their abilities to continue to work for God.
In the story a rich man is leaving for a while and he gives money called “talents” to his servants. It was no small amount.
Although the first receives five times as much as the last, each receives a substantial sum of money. A talent is equal to about 6,000 denarii. One denarius is a common laborer’s daily wage, so a talent would be roughly equivalent to 20 years wages for the average worker. Five talents, the largest amount given to any of the servants, is equal to about a hundred year’s worth of labor. So the story would definitely have attracted attention.
When the master returns he discovers what the three have done with the money. The first two have doubled the sum. Even though they started with different amounts they both worked hard. The third servant fears he will lose what he has and so he buries it in the ground. That was not an uncommon practice in those days but the money did not increase. In fact the money in reality decreased in value due to the rise in cost of living. The master is furious.
Parables are often made into allegories. An allegory is when the characters in the story represent others. Usually the main character is God or Jesus. The way this master reacts proves that Jesus is not trying to make an allegory. He is not trying to portray God as a selfish ogre. The master claims he “reaps where he does not sow and gathers where he did not scatter”. This would add interest to the story but also a critical awareness of the need to value our gifts.
The main point of the story is exactly what the parents have been saying. Use it or Lose it however there is a caveat to it.
Use the gifts you have been given – but use them for good.
Periodically I have had discussions with people is over the intelligence of world leaders; good and bad. It is easy to say that a good leader is brilliant but people hesitate to say that someone like Hitler or Attila the Hun or Timur was a very smart person. In actual fact they were brilliant. Just misguided.
Just because you use the gift doesn’t mean it is a good thing.
In the Harvard business review, author Margarita Mayo says we appear to be “hardwired to search for superheroes: over-glorifying leaders who exude charisma.”
The Greek word Kharisma means “divine gift.” It is the quality of extraordinary charm and magnetism, that makes a person capable of inspiring others with enthusiasm and devotion.
German sociologist Max Weber defined charisma as “of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of it, the individual concerned is treated as a leader.”
Charismatic people are more likely to become leaders because of their high energy, unconventional behavior, and heroic deeds.
But there is a dark side. They can be prone to extreme narcissism. A clinical study illustrates that when charisma overlaps with narcissism, leaders tend to abuse their power and take advantage of their followers.
So here is a “Divine Gift” that is being used for bad. The old idea use it or lose it needs to have more to it.
Some of you will remember Jimmy Jones. He was a cult leader who convinced 918 of his followers to commit suicide in Guyana in 1978. It is where we get the expression “Just drink the Kool-aid” A woman I knew fairly well spent several days working with him. She said he was the most wonderful and charismatic man she had ever met. Then she woke up one morning to hear that he had not used his gifts for the good of others.
It is very fashionable to use god’s gifts to get ahead personally. It is not in fashion to use them for others. This parable has been used by Televangelists to promote prosperity, but I don’t think that was where Jesus was headed with the story.
In Matthew’s Gospel faithfulness is copying the ministry of Jesus. Jesus has announced the arrival of God’s kingdom by feeding the hungry, curing the sick, blessing the meek, and serving the less fortunate.
All who would follow Jesus are to preach the good news of the kingdom to the whole world (24:14) by going about the work that he has called them to do (24:24-51). This work includes visiting the sick and imprisoned, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, and feeding the hungry (25:31-46).
The more we use the talents to God’s purposes the closer we get to the kindom on earth. We do have an opportunity to make this world better – “Use it or Lose It”
God our talents and gifts come from you. You call us to use them creatively and boldly, but in your service. Help us to appreciate what we have and not be constantly longing for something different. Help us to recognize our gifts and seek ways to use them. No matter how slight we think they are. Help us to use them to make a difference, not just to ourselves but also to the world. If we can speak, or teach, or work with our hands or our minds; if we can provide a service, or share the load of someone else, help us to see the need and have the energy to act. Help us to spice up someone’s life by demonstrating justice and love.
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in 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
lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
forever and ever Amen
Etransfer info at bottom of page
Gilford Drive through hot roast beef supper On November 18 -sold out
Thanks to helpers
Opening Prayer
Hymn – 664 What a Friend
Scripture Matthew 25: 14-30
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn MV 209 Go Make a difference
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
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