For nearly 13 years, The Reverend Dr. Ron Brown has had the privilege of being the Senior Pastor of the First Congregational Church in Southington, Connecticut where he loves being part of a faith community that is willing to take risks to enter into God’s joy.
Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30 (NRSV)
‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then 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.” His 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.” And 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.” His 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.” Then 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; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But 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? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For 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. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Reflection: Understanding the Risk and the Gift
I wish that there was a fourth servant in this parable, one who gets maybe half a talent since the distribution is based on ability. I would like to hear about a servant who got all enthusiastic about a stock market tip he gets from his uncle, a certain winner, one that would pay off quickly. In all good faith that fourth servant sinks the whole pot into that surefire startup, expecting a great return.
But, the day before the master returns, the company that just couldn’t miss goes belly up. The stock for which he so hopefully paid fifty dollars a share is now worth about seventy-five cents. So, when the master comes back, he says, “Well, master, it’s like this. Everyone down at Ernst and Young said it was a sure thing, but things just didn’t work out. All I have left is this nice fountain pen they gave me when I opened the account.”
What do you think Jesus would have had the master say then?
Remember, this is the same Jesus who is always holding up the prodigal sons as examples, always showing compassion for little losers like Zacchaeus. This Jesus is always taking failures, lifting them up, dusting them off, and setting them on their way in a different direction.
But there isn’t a fourth servant in the story, and I guess I can’t add one, but it would seem to me that what Jesus is trying to tell us in the Parable of the Talents is that the only real risk when it comes to following him is letting fear paralyze you. He says as much at the end of the parable: “For 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.”
You can’t take anything away from nothing.
I think the third servant understood the risk. But he didn’t understand the gift—how to enter into God’s joy.
Jesus tells this story very near the end of his life. He knows that he is on his way to the cross. He is all in. He knows that he is about to give everything he has, his life, to these servants who have been following him. He is taking a huge risk. He needs to know that they aren’t going to bury what he gives them in the backyard.
Jesus knows the risk. He wants them—he wants us to receive the gift, to enter God’s joy.
On Good Friday we understand the risk, but on Easter Sunday, if we hold on through the dark weekend, we are given a priceless gift, the gift of entering God’s joy.
Help us not to be so careful or afraid, O God, that we miss the gift of entering God’s joy—the gift of life. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at email@example.com.
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the people of Ukraine and the Middle East whose lives continue to be shattered by war, as well as the many landscapes that are currently embroiled in conflicts .
- For those grieving or suffering due to the ~37,000 gun violence deaths that happened in the US since the start of the year, including the latest mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine.
- For churches looking to find the right path.
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
This Week in History:
November 14, 1960 (63 years ago): Six-year-old Ruby Bridges walked into William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana, accompanied by federal marshals and taunted by angry crowds, following a court order mandating the desegregation of schools. [History]
“Study the past if you would define the future.”