Sermons 2008
The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Proper 28A 2008                                             Matthew 25:14-30

 Almost all the election returns are in and we know who won or lost.  Or at least we think we do.  But the debate over candidates still rages on in the press and in meal time conversations, even here in the Northern Neck, with side discussions about why the outcome is as it is.  And of course, the virtues and problems with each candidates set of talents is examined minutely.

Today’s Gospel is the Parable of the Talents.  A talent, as currency, was the sum of money that an able bodied laborer might expect to earn in the course of fifteen years of work – about a lifetime in those days.  And two talents 30 years, five talents 75 years.

The conventional interpretation is that, in its final form, at least, the story is an allegory of the right relationship between Christ and the early church. The master is the Christ, his departure is his ascension, and his return is the parousia.  We are the servants.  How Christian servants of whatever Century deploy their blessings, their material or spiritual riches, in short, their talents, they can make significant additions Church and humankind in general.  Servants have a crucial role in the economy of God on earth.  (1)  That’s one level of understanding.

            Another  is that Jesus is discussing spiritual gifts, each very precious, but some people are given more than others. The emphasis is on what one does with what one is given:  what is done with the gifts God has given.  To whom more is given, more is required.  The parable of the talents also reminds us that no one is without a gift from God, and therefore there are no excuses. (2)

Few of Jesus’ parables are more problematic to 21st Century Christians..  On the surface it seems to confirm our suspicions about who deserves blessing and who does not.  In some hands this parable has been used for justification of the accumulation of wealth.  The gospel of prosperity has a long history in North America: from Puritans who regarded material goods as a sign of election to contemporary televangelists who promise financial rewards for those who follow Christ.

What if we focused not on the supposed industriousness of each slave and but rather on their assumptions about the nature of the gifts they receive and what they are to do with it?  (3)

The first two servants made the world a better place for their having been in it.  They used their talents to multiply what was around them.  We all know people for whose lives the world is a better place.  It doesn’t have to be a great heroic life or deed.  It can be as simple as planting shrubs or flowers along the roadside to give beauty and pleasure to the passerby.  It can be the usual thing like feeding the poor, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, and visiting the sick.  Or just a kind word to someone who needs it.  What Jesus meant about how loving our neighbor is a measure of how much we love God.   And surely we all want the world to be a better place for our having lived in it.  The choice is ours – it always has been.

             A last story:  it’s about a slight  92-year-old poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, shaved clean, hair combed even though he is nearly blind, moved to a nursing home.  His wife of 70 years had died, making the move necessary.  After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled
sweetly when told his room was ready.

            As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, his attendant gave him a description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.

            “I love it,” he said like an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
            “But you haven't seen the room; just wait.'

            'That doesn't have anything to do with it,' he replied. 
“Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged; it’s how I choose.  I already decided to love it. It's a choice I make every morning when I wake up.  I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.  I choose to be happy.

            “Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away.  Old age is like a bank account.  You withdraw from what you've put in.  So, my advice to you would be to choose to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank.“


            And remember these choices:    

Speak softly;  Smile often;  Live simply ;  Give freely;  Love hugely




1.  W. Sibley Towner, Exegesis II, Lectionary Homiletics for Proper 28A,

            2.  Ben Witherington, III, Exegesis III, Lectionary Homiletics for Proper 28A,

            3.  David H. Jensen, Theological Themes, Lectionary Homiletics for Proper 28A,