Nov 17, 2018
No Podcast this week but here is the text of my sermon for planned giving (or stewardship)
Focus Scripture Matthew 25:14-30
I think that the great tragedy in the parable of the talents is
that the third slave does not really understand his master. The
least slave says to his master Matthew 25:24–25 (NRSV)
“I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid” Yet up to this point in the story what do we learn of the master?
We learn that he has entrusted three of his slaves, not sons, or free servants, or a steward or a manager with 1, 2 and 5 talents. A talent was a sum of money and for a day labourer it was between 16 and 20 years wages. So even the least servant is entrusted with at least 16 years wages.
In today’s money that would be over $650, 000. And the servant who got 5 talents is entrusted with over $3, 000, 000 So firstly we know that this master is prepared to trust his slaves with a fortune. Does that sound like a harsh man? Would a harsh man trust so much to a slave? Nor does this master reap where he did not sow. For he has sown a mind boggling amount on these three slave. So the master trusts all three slaves with a generosity which is reckless, or to use another word with biblical echoes - he is prodigal, wastefully extravagant with even his slaves.
Second, when the master returns he goes to the first two slaves and asks what they have doe with their trust. And what does he do? Does he reap the profits he did not sow? No! He goes further, he says I’ve trusted you with a few things (you know, just millions of dollars, that’s all), now I will trust you with many.
So the Master is lavishly trusting even of his slaves, not harsh at all and when his trust is rewarded he does not take the money or the credit but trusts the slaves with more. He is extravagantly generous.
The third slave has never understood his master. I don’t know but I reckon that if the last slave had invested or traded with the money to the best of his ability and lost everything, if he had been faithful, then the master would have also said to him “well done good and faithful servant”.
When I was a very young adult a friend of mine wrote off his parents’ car at a round about. A couple of weeks later, when they had their new car, I visited him at home and it was late by the time I went to go. I did not drive, and was willing to walk but his father said to me, “why don’t you drive Andrew home?” I will never forge that trip. He was nervous driving the brand new car, but the thing which really impressed me was the character of his father. Not only was he trusted with a car he was trusted with the life of a friend. There is no more precious cargo than a fellow human being.
Today we are asked to reflect on our financial giving to the church and make a plan. As I said last week we have been trusted with so much. God our loving parent the one Jesus called Dad has given us life, has trusted us with his son, and with his church, and by rasing Jesus has trusted us with new life, and the Spirit, and he calls us to invest these gifts in the church, in our families and in our community. God has trusted us with so much been so generous, and now calls us to invest those lavish gifts into a community of love. We won’t always get it right but we need not be afraid for Our Master is generously trusting ,and not harsh, and he does not reap the benefit but instead, if we are faithful, trusts us even more!