TRINITY UNITED CHURCH: NOVEMBER 19, 2023
SUMMARY: WASTED TALENTS
We really do need to stop burying what we’ve been given. Our reading, from Matthew 25:14- 30, is complex. It is easily misunderstood as we wrestle to get what Jesus may be saying. Just what are we to understand from this? Where is there possibly something good for us to hear? Notice who Jesus was speaking to, and what he was actually speaking about: he was speaking to his disciples about what life is like for them, and so for us, as we come to live fully within the Kingdom of heaven has having come on earth. He began this teaching earlier with the women with the lamps to teach how we are to live in a posture of ever-readiness to own and to live out Christ’s outpoured love in our lives. His point being that Christ, as the groom, is not only ever-coming but even actually ever-here.
And it’s as we remember him that we make what he did then present now once again. In today’s reading He’s tracing how we ought to live with as full an expression possible of what we have been given and what we are. Elsewhere 1 he teaches for us not to hide our lights but rather to let them shine for everyone to see. Hiding/concealing/doing nothing with what we have been apparently much worse than us risking wasting or even losing it. We may not do nothing: the worst consequences are always reserved for those who choose
just to do nothing! Remember how ‘our love must not just be words but show itself in action!’ 2 Kind of like that parable of the disappointing son who had all the correct words as he told his father that he would go to work in the vineyard but then didn’t, versus the one who pleased his father by although initially saying that he wouldn’t go, later went and actually did what his father wanted of him! Action. We know what we need to be doing, in this world of anger and fear, of excluding prejudice and hate, a world of selfishness and greed, we know that it is for us to be all about whatever best demonstrates God’s own hugely inclusive justice and compassion and mercy and forgiveness and love. We know it! Nike has it perfectly correct – what we all need is simply ‘just to do it!’
And so, what stops us? Perhaps it’s ourselves! Perhaps we don’t actually know what we are or who we are or what we have been given… or if we did perhaps once know, well, perhaps we forget? Remember the Sunday school song: Can’t your blessings name them one by one?’ We should – often! Because how easily we do forget. But get this: our blessings aren’t given to us to horde or to hide for fear of losing. It’s for us to employ them/ use them/ set them to work. Remember we are never the owners only the ever the stewards of what’s been entrusted to us. That includes everything! And so, what stops us from doing so, from doing it
more? from doing it better? from doing it more fully?
Perhaps it’s because of what others have said about us: that we are small, ineffective, insignificant. Perhaps, we are ashamed of who and what we are and have. Perhaps we think it’s safer to be closeted. Perhaps we’ve begun to tell ourselves that we are not energetic enough, not faithful enough, too old, or too poor. Or perhaps we are ashamed because we think we have no gifts, or talents, because we are not spiritual enough, knowledgeable enough, struggling to fit into the expectations of others because our gifting is not as they
expect of us and so is dismissed as irrelevant, unimportant…? That is all so deeply damaging, and deeply wrong.
Celtic teacher Philip Newell 3 describes an awful dream that he had of his beautiful daughter. In the dream she’d been repeatedly told that she was wrong, a fool, stupid, that she knew nothing. His heart broke as he saw how deeply hurt she was by those words. Even though at one level she knew it was not true, at another it was as he writes: ‘sowing uncertainty in her and so she was becoming increasingly unable to express herself coherently – so plagued was she coming to be by self-doubt. Tragically, if we grow up being told that we are stupid or ugly or selfish, and if we are told that toxic stuff enough, we come to believe it! I think of how this awful doctrine of original sin has hurt so many of us in the church as opposed to our embracing of the infinitely more Biblical concept of original blessing. We’ve been told that at our deepest selves we are not beautiful and not in God’s image but corrupt sinful and apart from God – needing to be saved. If added to that we’ve had teachers and bullies and misguided parents, hateful or jealous peers or partners or insecure and threatened bosses all contributing to that false and untrue essential identity, well, the inevitable result
would be as the burying of the best of ourselves – like that buried gold, in the ground.
Can Marianne Williamson’s famous poem 4 be spot on? I think this is something of what Jesus was wanting his disciples to understand if they were ever to have a real sense of living within the Kingdom of Heaven. This is for us to understand as well. We are not to settle for being anything less than what we have been given by God to be. Why would anyone ever want to bury that treasure?
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1 Matthew 5:15; Mark 4:21; Luke 11:33
2 1 Jn.3:18
3 Christ of the Celts
4 Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles” “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our
deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous. Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing
enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make
manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other
people permission to do the same.As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”