Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18 † Psalm 90:1-12 † 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 † Matthew 25:14-30
A video version of this sermon can be found here.
The kingdom of God, the reign of God, the world in which God’s will is done is like this: a man going on a journey summoned his servants and entrusted his considerable riches to them.
We’ve talked about this parable before. It is a sticky one—one of those that can be read in multiple ways depending on how you identify the players, depending on the way you read it. And there may be no right answer to it, except the one that gets us closer to the deep truth of God’s life in the world and in us in this moment in time, which is probably the one that disturbs and challenges us the most.
I suspect we know the traditional reading. This is a story about the importance of doing something with the gifts and the talents we have been given. And this is true, isn’t it? It is important. The master to whom the talents belong is God, or maybe Jesus, and the servants are the disciples—us, you and me—who take what we’ve been given and use it for good, or don’t perhaps to our peril. Paul kind of sums up this idea in his letter to the Thessalonians: “Encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” Make investments in God’s ways, in other words, and be cautious when God’s ways challenge those ways to which we have grown accustomed.
There’s much to be drawn from this, and some difficulties as well. How, for example, do we reconcile this callous or even cruel absentee owner for whom forgiveness seems to be a rare commodity, who seems to take delight in enriching those who are already rich and throwing the one who already had little into the darkness—how do we reconcile this image with the God who in Jesus is love and justice equally? How do we imagine that this one who gave his life for the sake of the world could be so hard-hearted?
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