November 19, 2017
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today we have the rare opportunity to witness the great circle of life as we bring into our Christian faith Charlie Skinner through baptism and we honor one of the longest standing members of our congregation, Barbara Fox, before she leaves to go and live near her daughter. If that is not enough, it is also the beginning of our stewardship drive.
In the gospel this morning we heard the parable of the talents.
What does God expect us to do with what Heaven has given us? Do we take risks using our gifts or hide them for safekeeping? Let’s see what God expects us to do with our gifts.
Just what is a talent? The talents in the parable are spiritual capital. One might call it Kingdom capital and it should be used to show love. Those who are given the most are expected to produce the most spiritually in loving God and our neighbors.
In Matthew 25:15 we read of an employer about to leave on a long journey, who entrusted talents to different employees, “to each according to his own ability.” A talent was a weight of gold or silver. The Athenian or Attic talent was once about 26 kilogram (57 pounds) weight of silver. Today’s spot silver price is about $556 per kilogram, which is about $14,500 for a talent. Another way to measure a talent was about fifteen year’s wages. If this year’s average household income is $60,000 then a talent could be $900,000. Even the one-talent-guy was entrusted with great responsibility.
What is Jesus trying to say to us in this parable? What practical wisdom can we gain? What does God require of those with the most? In Matthew 25:16 we read that, “he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.” Wealth is on loan to us from God. Those with the most also have the greatest capacity for doing good or evil. Material and spiritual wealth bring with them greater responsibility. Who among us has been given the greatest talents, wealth, abilities or spiritual gifts? How much more can each of us show God’s love? To whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:41-48). Whether they be spiritual or material talents, their purpose is to love others. The light yellow sheets is your way of responding to God’s call by giving your time, your talents and your treasure. Please prayerfully consider it.
You and I are responsible for the choices we make. We are responsible for how we live our lives.
That’s not a popular viewpoint nowadays. We are a generation of excuse makers. When it comes to homework, why someone is late or who did what to whom in school, I have truly heard it all. Life may be unkind to us or we may be incredibly lucky. But still, ultimately, we are responsible for how we respond to life’s ups and downs.
A man named Daniel Schantz wrote to Guidepost magazine once to tell about an interesting experience he had. It was while he was taking flying lessons.
One day, his flight instructor jotted the letters P-I-C in Schantz’s logbook. “What’s P-I-C?” Schantz asked.
“P-I-C stands for Pilot in Command,” his instructor said. “It means that you are totally responsible for what happens when you are piloting this aircraft.”
Schantz asked, “But what if poor maintenance causes the engine to fail?”
“It’s your fault,” his instructor said. “You should check everything before takeoff.”
Schantz retorted, “What if a passenger hijacks me to Mexico?”
“You’re still responsible for the aircraft and passengers,” his instructor said.
Schantz protested, “What if the weather turns bad and I have to land on a highway?”
“You will have to answer for it,” his instructor said. “No matter what happens, you will shoulder the blame because you are the Pilot in Command.” Schantz thought about his instructor’s words, and they made him realize that he was responsible for his behavior, no matter what the circumstances.
“When I’m late for a meeting,” says Schantz, “I dare not blame my watch. When I lose my temper in class, it’s my fault, not others. When the bill collector calls, I must answer because I am the Pilot in Command.
We are all ultimately responsible for how we deal with our lives. Our parents are not responsible for the choices we make. Our spouse is not responsible for the choices we make.
Does God expect us to take risks? We heard in our gospel that the man who was given money to invest, confessed, “I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground.” This was a common practice in ancient times, before banking became common. It was just safer there. Jesus does not want us to take the safe route with His investment in us. It is a risk to share the Gospel with others. They may hate us, abandon us or they just might believe. Jesus is not meant to be buried but shared. He wants us to take risks and grow Heaven’s investment in us.
It’s very appropriate that we call the gifts God has given to you and to me, our talents. Let’s not bury them. We are happiest when we are using our God-given talents to spread God’s love. This Thanksgiving week, let’s take time to be thankful for all of our many blessings. Take time to listen to God. Take time to listen to others, young and old. I am so very thankful for each of you who are here today. May God bless you. AMEN.