Sermon, Sunday November 16, 2014

The sermon begins after the Gospel reading below.
Bible readings for this Sunday are:Zephaniah 1:7, 12–18; Psalm 90:1–8[9–11] 12; 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11;
Matthew 25:14–30
And here is the Gospel reading, Matthew 25:14-30:
Jesus tells a parable about his second coming, indicating that it is not sufficient merely to maintain things as they are. Those who await his return should make good use of the gifts that God has provided them.

14For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.' 21His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.' 23His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, 'Master, 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, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' 26But his master replied, 'You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.
 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Digging a hole          And putting stuff in it
And covering it up              Putting it in dark earth
Below sight                 
Where it can not see the light of day
Nor be seen even with a light…
Good for a root cellar
Or a treasury to store what you don’t want others to know you have
But not the way            To live a life
That reflects the abundant love of God.
So ok,               This parable sounds alarming,
Maybe because we know ourselves to be
So much like the 3rd worker   ---   Wanting to keep safe
Wanting not to fail               Wanting just to be left alone
Not wanting life to be too disrupted
By doing more and more in the abundance of God
when we may feel a scarceness
But                 Digging a hole
And hiding what is given us
Affects us                   and we end up flinging ourselves
Our nature            Our ability to see with joy
Our lightness of being           Right down in the hole of fear
And covering ourselves up.
And what then happens to us?
We are drowned in dark forboding.
We are lost in not knowing where to begin.
We can’t see the openings above and below and around us.
About this parable, there has been lots and lots written, over the last couple of thousands of year.
Lots written, lots spoken, lots thought.
The outlooks vary         
Depending                I suppose
On personality of writer, on culture of writer
On personal outlook and research and theology
And it can change                  
For all those others        And each of us
By what our life experience in the moment is
But look at where this parable is placed
by dear Matthew who urgently wanted us to hear of the Good News of God’s Love in Jesus…
And we might get a clue of one way it can be for us
No matter what our life experience or culture or personality is.
Jesus has been teaching his disciples, and we are in what we label chapter 25 of 28 chapters---so the first end is near.  The cross is near.  Death and suffering are near.
We might want, if we know the suffering to come, to just dig a hole and pull ourselves in, bury ourselves in the dark of not looking out.  For if we’d been sitting there hearing Jesus, and actually thought death and torture were close
Wouldn’t we want to miss it?
And hide ourselves away…          So understandable…
But then we would miss       The fullness of the story,  
The promise of God          That the Light of God
Will conquer all darkness and trouble and world dilemnas and world history and personal struggle
And instead we stay afraid, hidden away    
In a self-made hole    Or an upper room
Or non-discipleship, non following of Jesus, but looking back at what we thought might be…
Afraid, we’d not undig our hole
And so we’d be not seen      Be alone
Gnashing our teeth and crying out in the darkness that we have no where to turn…
So Jesus says,
“Don’t do that…Be with me     See the light I bring
See the abundance I hand over to you
Not of wealth     Not of abilities    But of Joy in my Joy.
Just after this parable ends, Jesus says  
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him…”    who would want to miss that?
And what comes then?
A woman who pours out abundance in ointment that had cost perhaps what seemed as much to her as the 15 years of wages that a talaanta represented…
Her abundance poured out where?
On Jesus
To show her ability to pour out in fullness what she had received,
Life worth more than all the money there ever could be
And then want comes, in Matthew’s telling of the story of the woman and her costly gift given to Jesus?
Who saw only waste instead of as abundance
And so he fled to enemies of Jesus and asked for money
To betray Jesus
And in so doing,   It seems to me     He digs a hole
In which to hide
And miss the light of life itself
He cannot tolerate the abundance he had seen
Thinking it misspent
And then, when he does betray, he finds the silver he received  
To be without gleam without light
And tries to rid himself of it
Flinging the silver on the floor at the feet of those who had given it to him….
And ends up in the darkest part of life
With his own realization that he had in betraying Jesus thrown
Away all with worth…
Judas ends up making his own noose, dying, and the flung back silver purchases a burial ground where foreigners, those not welcomed were shut away even in burial..
This parable isn’t about money, it just sounds that way.
Its about many aspects of our life with God,
Of our abundant moments in which to seek to know God
Who seeks us always…
not holding back from us
not hiding away from us
not digging a hole to bury us, but rather welcoming us…
in the life of Jesus, who comes to save us from ourselves
And to tell us that in him, even our darkness has light
With him, our scarcity has abundance.
Jesus, born to be the Light of the World
Lets us see
With a new light that reflects for us
That abundance is not money piled high
Not money stored away a future day
Nor success instead of failure
Nor weapons to make us feel secure
Nor health that makes us feel we will not ail
Abundance is the love of God
Shared with us by the loving hand of God who trusts us
And asks us
Journey with me
That others may see
There is an ancient hymn that helps us see new light
and the words include this
“Poor Judas in despair flung silver on the floor…”
It goes on in the imagined voice of Judas
“that field was meant to be a final place for me
But Jesus came to save me
By dying life    He gave me.”   And the writer gives Judas joy to sing, telling us “Sing praise and adoration to God for our salvation.”
Yes, Jesus says for all he has come, for our salvation. For Judas and for us.
Yes, Jesus says I am the light of the World.
Yes, Jesus says, to all nations and all people,
Come into the abundance I provide.
And so we with Peter and Judas and all the betrayers of God
Need not bury ourselves away
For God has poured out for us
Abundant Love in which there is unending light
Through which we can live in the world and with all those in it
In new ways.                 Thanks be to Christ.   Amen!

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