November 15, 2023
Pastor Jennifer Beamsley
In our gospel for this Sunday, Jesus gathers disciples, giving them words of wisdom for a way of life. Jesus tells parable after parable—about the world as God sees it, the world as God hopes for. Each parable increases in intensity as Jesus feels time slipping through his fingers. Jesus is willing to take a risk for God’s mercy. Jesus wants his disciples to do the same.
God’s mercy needs a courageous people. Jesus wonders if his disciples are the courageous people he is looking for.
According to this Sunday’s parable, not everyone will be courageous. Take, for instance, the third person of the parable, the one who receives a talent and promptly buries it in the ground. Years pass, and when the giver of the talent returns, the talent remains hidden in the ground. Nothing gained, nothing lost.
The giver says: this is not the plan. The talent is to be used for something deeper. From the giver’s point of view, something is lost. The holder of the talent is negating a mercy-filled way of life in favor of self-preservation and predictability.
It’s commitment Sunday, and one could simply (and faithfully) draw a line between the parable and using our gifts to build a world God hopes for. I do hope you make a pledge to your congregation, because you are reflecting the deep work of God and it’s important to you, and the people God gave you to love. Your church needs your commitment.
Having said all that, I’m going in a different direction with my sermon this weekend.
For me, I’m more deeply interested in the courage it takes to be church, in the time and attention it takes to wonder what God is hoping for, and how God’s compassion is seeking courageous churches. I’m also paying a lot of attention too what will trip us up. It seems to me that there’s more than a talent buried in the ground. Nestled right there next to it is the receiver’s courage.
So today, the parable has me asking these questions:
1. What does God hope for my life for the remainder of the year, and how am I paying attention to this hope?
2. What does God hope for our churches, and how am I contributing to this hope?
3. What does God hope for the neighborhood I live in, the streets I drive on, the ground I walk upon, and how am I contributing to this hope?
4. What is tripping me up? What form will courage take?
Every day, I’ll be reading the parable. I hope you do, too, so when we get to Sunday it’s done it’s work on us and we leave filled with a little more of Jesus’ courage to be the church God’s compassion is looking for.