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Sermon Variation For Ordinary 33 - Year A
Matthew 25:14-30
"Investing For God - Risking For God"

READING:  Matthew 25:14-30
SERMON :  "Investing For God - Risking For God"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-or33sesu 857000

    The following sermon begins in the same way as Using What God Has Given 
    and Investing For God and includes some of the same illustrative 
    material, but in the end is cast a fair bit differently, especially as 
    we develop the theme of giftedness and of how we need not fear - but 
    trust in God.	

	
The parable of the talents is a parable about the manner in which God will
judge the world and his people.  It is a straightforward account.

A man who is about to leave on a journey entrusts his servants with
different portions of his property.  They are to look after that property
and to ensure that it continues to work for the master, that it continues
to make a profit while he is away.

Two of the servants double the investment they are intrusted with, and are
richly rewarded for doing so; but the third gains nothing from it for his
master, all he does is keep what he is given safe - following the custom of
the time he buries the money so that no harm might come to it.

The result for him?  What was entrusted to him is taken from him and given
to the servant with the 10 talents - and he is cast off the estate of his
master and into the place where there will be weeping and gnashing of
teeth! - forever! -  in darkness! - in torment....

Wow!  Pretty heavy stuff this! 

Right in there with several other stories and teachings about the end of
time - stories in the 24th and 25th chapters of the Gospel of Matthew about
the coming of the master to his rightful estate - of the groom to his bride
- of the king to his throne in the imperial court.  
     - cautionary tales - that end with evil servants being cut to pieces
     and assigned a place with the hypocrites and careless maidens being
     denied their spots at the wedding feast.
     - stories, like that of today's parable of the talents - which end
     with the ones who have blown it - the ones who have proven themselves
     to be goats instead of sheep, being thrown into eternal fire - while 
     those who have heeded their Master - those who have looked for him -
     those who have fed him and clothed him - those who have invested for
     him - enjoy great reward.

As I said - it is a straightforward account this parable of the talents
this parable of the three servants who each were entrusted with fabulous
wealth by their master, - a straightforward account of how God judges the
world.

So what should we make of it?

Well - I think we need to consider ourselves to be one of the servants in
the parable.  Or perhaps even as a forth servant.

We need to consider ourselves - and our family - and our church as a
servant entrusted with fabulous wealth - wealth to look after - wealth to
steward - while our master goes on a long trip.  

We need to consider ourselves as having been given one or two, or three,
our four, or five or maybe even  ten talents  and being left with this
money - this treasure - to do with what we will.

What would we do?  What will we do?

I ask that because that is what God has done.
God has given each one of us a fabulous a treasure 
- each in a different but abundant measure, 
and left what we do with it up to us.

God has endowed you.  
God has endowed me.  
God has endowed this church.

So where are we at with it?

And we going to play it safe?  And it put it in the bank?   
Like the third servant did?
Or are we going to risk it?  
Like the first and second servants did?

Think about it.

Think about what God has entrusted to you.
Think about who God has entrusted to you.....

Think about it.

Think about what we have been given in this life by our God
What we have been entrusted with for a matter of a few years 
and what we have been promised will be ours for an eternity.

Think of the fantastic treasure that has been poured out upon us 
with the giving of our breath,
with each meal we can eat,
with each person we come into contact with,
with each sight we can see.

I don't think that most of us think about enough.
If we did - things would be different wouldn't they?
Different for us.
Different for our world.

There is a little piece I've seen reprinted in various forms in different
church newsletters.  It goes like this:

     What would the church be like if every member were just like me?
     - Would our church be empty on Sunday, or full to overflowing, if
     everyone attended as I do?
     - How much Bible Study and prayer would occur if everyone took
     the time I do?
     - How many bruised, hurting, lonely people, would be touched by
     the church if every member acted exactly as I do?
     - Would we need more ushers and offering plates if everyone gave
     like me?
     - How many children would be led to faith through the Sunday
     School and church if everyone had my priorities?
     - Would the church just be an attractive social club?  Would it
     be closed, bankrupt, out of business?   Or would it be a dynamic
     force for Jesus Christ in our community and our world --- if
     everyone were just like me?
     
What would the church be like if every member were just like me? 

You know - one of the basic teachings of the bible, of the whole bible, 
the New Testament as much if not more than the Old,  
is that if don't use it - we lose it.

Even though Paul writes: "it is by grace, through faith, that we are saved,
     not by works, lest anyone should boast" there remains a judgement.  
A judgement grounded in mercy most surely; a judgement given in love - no
     doubt;  but none-the-less, a judgement.

Some once rewrote the Parable of the Talents to try to get at this point.   
The rewrite goes like this:

     One there was a king who had three sons, each with a special
     talent.  The first had a talent for growing fruit.  The second
     for raising sheep.  And the third for playing the violin.  Once,
     the king had to go overseas on important business.  Before
     departing he called his three sons together and told them he was
     depending on them to keep the people contented in his absence.

     Now for a while things went well.  But then came the winter, a
     bitter and cruel winter it was.  There was an acute shortage of
     firewood.  Thus the first son was faced with a very difficult
     decision.  Should he allow the people to cut down some of his
     beloved fruit trees for firewood?  When he saw the people
     shivering with cold, he finally allowed them to do so.

     The second son was also faced with a difficult decision.  Food
     became very scarce.  Should he allow the people to kill some of
     his beloved sheep for food?  When he saw the children crying for
     hunger, his heart went out to them and he allowed them to kill
     some of the sheep.

     Thus the people had firewood for their fires, and food for their
     tables.  Nevertheless the harsh winter continued to oppress them. 
     Their spirits began to sag, and there was no one to cheer them
     up.  They turned to the fiddler, but he refused to play for them. 
     In the end things got so bad that in desperation many of them
     emigrated.

     Then one day the king arrived back home.  He was terribly sad to
     find that many of his people had left his kingdom.  He called in
     his three sons to give an account of what had gone wrong.  The
     first said, "Father, I hope you won't be mad at me, but the
     winter was very cold and so I allowed the people to cut down some
     of the fruit trees for firewood."  And the second son said,
     "Father, I hope you won't be mad with me because when food got
     scarce I allowed the people to kill some of my sheep."

     On hearing this, far from being angry, the father embraced his
     two sons, and told them that he was proud of them. 

     Then the third son came forward carrying his fiddle with him. 
     "Father", he said, "I refused to play because you weren't here to
     enjoy the music."

     "Well then", said the king, "play me a tune now because my heart
     is full of sorrow."  The son raised the violin and bow, but found
     that his fingers had gone stiff from lack of exercise.  No matter
     how hard he tried, he could not get them to move.  Then the
     father said, "You could have cheered up the people with your
     music, but you refused.  If the kingdom is half-empty, the fault
     is yours.  But now you can no longer play.  That will be your
     punishment."

What would the church be like if every member was like me?
What would the world be like if every believer believed like I do?

You know the problem with the third servant don't you?
His problem was his fear.  He either feared too much - or not enough.
And so he was very very careful of all that the master gave him.

Like the man who is afraid to love - because he might get hurt 
Like the woman who is afraid to reach out - because she might be rejected
Like the child who is afraid to walk - because he might fall down,
the third servant was afraid;
and as in the case of all most fears, 
his fear came true - what he had was not enough for his master. 

The third servant was afraid.  He was afraid even though the constant
message of God - the message  seen whenever God visits his people - is -
"be not afraid".

Be not afraid.

Be not afraid of losing what you have.
Be not afraid of being alone, or of being hated
Be not afraid of suffering or dying.

Trust God.

Trust in the one who said "they who seek to save their lives will lose
them, but they who give their lives for me and for the gospel, will save
them."

Trust in the one who gave himself on the cross - and who in doing so made
an end of death.

The parable of the talents is not a lesson about our degree of ability or
productivity.  

It is a lesson about our attitude and our responsibility 
- about stepping out with God's treasure in our hands and risking it all
for the sake of God.
- about really daring to love - really daring to care
even though the conditions do not seem right for it 
even though the persons involved do not really seem worthy of it,
even though a thousand and one bad things might happen.

The sin of the third servant that could not be forgiven,

     is the sin of not daring to risk -
the sin of not believing that God will reward all who trust in him,
     the sin of not trusting the one who gave his life for us to raise us
up when we give our lives for him.

The mystery of the Gospel is not entrusted to the Church to be buried in
the ground.  It is given to the Church in order to be risked in the change
and interchange of the spiritual commerce of humanity.

Be not afraid -
- if we invested ourselves as well as we are able too in God's work
- if we use the gifts of God for the glory of God,
God will be pleased with us - and we will enter into his joy
we will sit down and eat with groom
and we will abide in the blessedness saved up for all who trust and
believe, both now - and forevermore.  Amen


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2002 - 2005
             please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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