We Are Here For A Good Time

The Gospel of  Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Matthew

“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.'”   (Matthew 25:14-30)


.When Jesus  tells the parable of the three servants given different sums of money to invest, he has in mind that the fellow who was given the least, and took it and hid it in the ground really represented the Pharisees and the Scribes in their attitude to the law and religion. 

Just like the servant who preserved the one piece of money he had been entrusted with. Their whole aim was to keep the law exactly as it was.

They would tell you themselves that they wanted to  build a fence around the law. To make sure it wouldn’t be changed.

So the man who is punished in that parable is the man who will not try.  Who will not risk.  Likes the status quo.

And this parable lays down a profound truth.  To the one who has, more will be given, and the one who has not will lose even that.

It means that if you have a talent and exercise it, then you will be able to do progressively more.  But if you don’t exercise it then you will surely lose it.

Even at the height of his success and fame, Tiger Woods could be seen still practicing on the driving range after everyone else had gone to bed.   

If we have a proficiency at a game or an art, the more we exercise that gift, the better we get. If we fail to use it, we lose it.

This is the same for golf, singing songs,  playing an instrument, baking pies, or even writing sermons. The only way to hold onto a gift is to use it, preferably in the service of God. 

Those of us who are followers of Jesus have been giving a special gift. We have been given, right into our hands, a love so special and so gracious that it can change our whole life.  

This love is something that we celebrate, coming to church,  as we  worship, praising God, and enjoying the peace and the joy which comes from having received that gift of life.

But here is the kicker – we are asked to take the love that God has given us, in His Son Jesus, and share it with someone else.

I bet you hadn’t thought of that! 

And when we do, we don’t have to worry about  His love running out, because it is not possible to give away all the love that God gives us.

The more you give, the more you will get!

I imagine the sharing of God’s love as like someone with a light in their hands, pouring some of that light into the hands of another, and that second person likewise pouring some of that light into the hands of another and so on.

A little bit like Christmas Eve  when we light one or two candles from the large pastoral candle and pass the light around to all those who have been given tapers. The light slowly fills the room, the way the light of Christ fills the world.

The love of God is the most valuable gift we have been given.

But there are unique gifts that God has also given to each of us, and which we can use to spread that love, that light,  throughout the world.

Maybe we have the gift of friendliness.  You know what I mean. Some people seem to be able to speak to anyone at any time on any subject. And be received warmly.

If that person is a follower of Jesus and doesn’t use that gift to share His love with others, then they are hiding their talent in the ground.

Some people have a gift of hospitality. You know the type. They can bake a pie in the blink of an eye, and make any guest feel truly welcome.  Or bring a person they have just met into their home and make them feel they have been friends for ever.

If people with that gift don’t use it to help share the love that Jesus has given them, then they too have taken their gift and hidden it in the ground.

Some people have the gift of teaching.

Some have the gift of comforting.

Some have the gift of making money.

Some have the gift of organizing.

These are all gifts that can be used in the church, and even more importantly, outside the church,  to spread the love of Jesus and to bring people to worship and praise Him and to become part of the community of those who are followers of Jesus.

Now Paul tells us that the Lord’s return will be as quiet and as surprising as a visit by a burglar.

So what if on the way home after this service, we heard that trumpet sound, and the heavens open, and the voices of choirs of angels, and saw Jesus coming in clouds of glory.

Imagine being taken before the throne, and hearing the person next to you being asked by God, “ What did you do with the gift I gave you.” and hearing the reply, “I took that gift and I used it to bring knowledge of your love to ten others.”

And then you hear the person on the other side being asked the same question. “ What did you do with the gift I gave you?” and hearing the reply, “I took that gift and used it to bring the light of Christ to five others.”

And then it’s your turn, and God says to you, “ What did you do with the gift I gave to you?”   And you say, “Well, I didn’t do anything with it really. I  was busy doing a lot of other things and I just didn’t get around to using my gift to help someone else share in your love.

“Basically I guess I was just too scared to use it …..……….”  and  your voice fades away in embarrassment.

But that wouldn’t be someone from my church. I have seen the gifts that have been showered on many,  and how they are used.

But none of us is perfect.  Sometimes I think we may have had it too easy.  And if you are normal you want it to be easy. I do.

And we don’t want anything to change. 

We don’t like change at home, we don’t like it in our lives, and we certainly don’t like it in religion.

For some of us, it’s like this: ‘I have just found myself a nice little niche. I sit in the same seat every week, and I have figured out how to use bulletin, and that green sheet, and the hymn book and that was hard enough, and now I don’t look  confused any more, so for Pete’s sake don’t change anything.

“I like things as they are.’ “

But that’s not life. That’s vegetating. And you know what they do with vegetables, don’t you?

Being a follower of Jesus is supposed to be an adventure, not a retirement.

Being a follower of Jesus is supposed to be the start of something good.

Remember that song by Herman’s Hermits, “ dee de de dee de dee dee dee    ….I’m onto something good.”

That’s how we ought to be as Christians – WE ARE ONTO SOMETHING GOOD.    For Pete’s sake!.

It’s waking up to a new world, a new way of being.

Imagine when Jesus was here. Imagine living in that time, and hearing that he was going to be coming by. People would get up early, get dressed and rush out and down to the road on which he was expected to walk.  Or to the side of a hill, because he often used a hill from which to teach.  

We meet Jesus each week in the Eucharist.

Right at that altar rail. 

So do we waken on Sunday morning with a sense of enthusiasm, and joy and rush to get ready to come down and meet Jesus?   I am sure some of us do, but maybe not every week. 

We also meet Jesus daily in the people we meet.

That’s right.

So do we get up in the week and think with joyful anticipation of seeing him in the face of someone we meet? 

We have a chance to model Jesus in how we show our faces to the world today.

Do we get up and get ready, shine up the face and get ready to show Jesus to the world?

And if the answer is ‘no’ then why not?’

Where is our sense of adventure?

We get used to things, don’t we? And there is nothing wrong with that.  We know about Jesus. We have heard about him every week. Tell me something I haven’t heard before. 

We may have lost the excitement  and wonder of knowing Jesus. 

The rationality of this world gets in the way of the wonders of the next world.

You might talk about Jesus to someone, and someone who hears you may point to their head, like this .. meaning you are crazy….but they are pointing at themselves aren’t they? .

I heard about a church in the middle of Philadelphia. This church was right there in the middle of the city and used to be a church for middle-class white people. As those  people left for the suburbs, and more black people came into the city, the church demographic changed.

The congregation is now almost totally black. Not completely – there is one white family still attending.  They refuse to move.

I heard about a funeral there. 

The casket was open during the service. The minister addressed the congregation but he also addressed the deceased person, we will call Clarence. Lying there!

He would look at Clarence and ask, “Do you remember, Clarence, when you started teaching in Sunday School? You were so scared because you had never taught before?    And we knelt, right over there at that altar rail, and asked God to give you the gift of teaching?

And you took that Sunday School from six pupils to over a hundred?

Remember that Clarence?

And then you joined the choir and used your rich bass to enliven the music of that choir. And now our choir is constantly being asked to perform all over the state.

Remember that Clarence?

We do, don’t we folks?

Praise the Lord Clarence, you were a great asset to the Lord.

And he would go on like that.

And at the end of the funeral service, the minister said, “ Goodbye Clarence” and banged the lid of the casket down with a loud bang, “You will be  with the Lord in Glory, in the morning!!”

And the congregation shouted ‘Hallelujah.’

And they sang joyous songs, songs that said ‘Goodbye,’ but songs that told of their deep belief that Clarence was indeed going to a beautiful, happy joyous, place where space had been reserved for him by his Lord Jesus.

The feeling was real that Clarence had been on a great  adventure, and now he was going on a new adventure, one even more exciting than the one he experienced serving the Lord here in earth.

The attitude that Clarence showed, tells of what it is to be a follower  of Jesus.

It can be scary if you are called to do something new.

But it’s an adventure, a joy ride, a time to live and to let everyone know you are living,   living in the love of Christ.  And when it’s over the joy continues – in another place.

You know there are people whose job it is, to devise and design ever more scary roller coasters to petrify the riders.

First there was the highest, then the longest, then the twistiest, and then the upside-down ride, and then the fastest, twistiest- upside- down- through-the-water ride.

When you are on that ride and you feel your heart thumping in your chest, and a scream squeezes through your clenched teeth, then you know you are alive. 

You just don’t know for how long!

There are things that we know we should do as followers of Jesus. Things we are too nervous to do. Things that  scare us.  Like one of those rides.

But imagine if you did. Imagine the way your heart would beat, and how your pulse would race, doing something you had been too scared to do before.

Live dangerously for God. Live adventurously for God.

We are here for a good time, not a long time.     Don’t anybody tell me that eighty is a long time. ‘Cause it flies when you are enjoying it!

Talk to someone about how Jesus has changed your life. Tell someone who needs His love that you will pray for them.  Better still pray with them.

Feel the thrill of being right there doing what He wants  you to do, and something you have been scared to do until now. Feel your pulse race, your heartbeat quicken.

And if someone asks why you are smiling all the time, don’t tell them that you have just remembered the joke the minister told last Sunday, tell them that it is the love of Jesus bubbling up in you.

And let it out!

Dig it up and let it flow forth and multiply two fold, five fold, a hundred fold.

And then on that great day which is surely coming, instead of hiding your face you will  proudly hold up your head and  say, “Yeah God. Did I do a  good job for you !!”

And He might say, ” Great. Good Job. Go over  there, and meet Clarence! “

Amen and Hallelujah.