Risky Business

The Third Slave recovers his buried talent.
The Third Slave recovers his buried talent.

Delivered at ARK Community Church, Dalton MA, November 16, 2014.

Matthew 25:14-30 The Parable of the Talents (The Voice Bible)

The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 has always left me a little uneasy. For one thing, parables, by intent, are meant to end with a question mark: leaving their audience with an anxious and counterintuitive decision that they would rather not face and can’t quite pin down. And yet, in this parable, the answer seems pretty clear – “Put our God-given talents to use.” In fact, this is so widely accepted that the word “Talent” itself came to be used in the English language as a reference to our God-given gifts because of this parable; transformed from its ancient use as a word for a standard measure of great wealth.

So, from that point alone, I am curious as to whether the traditional interpretation that we’ve probably all heard in many sermons is actually in line with the intent of Matthew’s Gospel, or Jesus’ intent, for that matter.

Increasing my unease is this: Jesus is the Social Revolutionary, constantly campaigning against the evils of privilege and position and power.  And yet, in this story, the person who already holds position and power seems to be eager to acquire even more through the efforts of others, and engages with his servants in ways that would have been perceived by the original audience as unfair and dishonest.

But first, let’s look at the setting for this parable… It is part of a very clear and intentional sequence of events and teachings in Matthew’s narrative, all of which focus on the issue of the return of Christ.

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Lord of the Unseen

Sermon presented at First Congregational Church of West Boyleston, MA; November 20, 2011…


Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46

I’ve found that the best place to work on my Christian witness is while I’m driving in my car, alone.  Like, when someone cuts me off, I’ll spontaneously give them the fist of fellowship; and I’ve been known to utter a few very warm and heartfelt words when someone steals my parking spot. I also find that when I drive during rush hour, or when going to the mall during the Christmas season, that I pray every chance I get.

It’s so easy to let go, just a little bit, when we are wrapped in a steel and glass cocoon, when no one sees what we’re doing, or saying.  We are safe from interference, from having to judge whether the inconsiderate actions of others are due to their merely having a bad day, or if their IQ really is less than the speed they’re driving.  Since we’re invisible to those around us, why not let fly with a little emotion?  Why not blow off a bit of steam?

Continue reading “Lord of the Unseen”