Sermons from St Faith's   

Being Bothered

Fr John Reed, Sunday, 19th November, 2017

“Accidie” is a very serious matter, I hope it is not present in St. Faith’s.  A very old sin sometimes found among Christians and other believers, it doesn’t make the headlines, it has big implications for attendance statistics and dare I say stewardship, but more importantly it has big effects on our relationship with the Creator of the world, his Son Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Holy Mother Church.

And sermons published on websites could contribute towards this!

If at this point you are saying to yourself I can’t be bothered, then you are nearly there. It is a state of spiritual sloth, apathy or indifference.

Zephaniah is the grandson of good king Hezekiah, the one who discovered the law of Moses in the temple and called the people back to faith in the Yahweh who saved his people from captivity in Egypt. King Hezekiah was blessed with a lifetime of living in a great land, undisturbed by neighbouring empires.  Zephaniah is one just generation away from being part of a people exile and captivity. He speaks warnings of Gods imminent judgement to a people who rest complacently on their dregs.

Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica urging them to keep awake and be sober. He places their lives in the context of the day of the Lord, the return of Christ as our Lord and Judge.  It is coming…… and it will be a surprise. For Paul living your life any other way was like living in the dark, an existence typified by “eat drink and merry for tomorrow you will die.”  We may have goals but if they are not totally Christ centred we are missing the point.  So with Paul we should be awake, keep watch and be ready to open the door for our Lord to enter in.  And he will come again and again when we least expect it.

The parable of the talents comes at the end of Matthews Gospel, there are 3 parables just before Jesus arrest, we had the 10 bridesmaids last week, , and next week we have the sheep and the goats. These for Matthew are Jesus last words and like all last words should be listened to very carefully.

It is a story of a ruler and 3 slaves, the word slave defines their status, for better or worse they are owned by their master.  So when he gives 5 2 and 1 of his talents to their stewardship, what happens next is not for their personal benefit.   The parable makes it clear not everyone is given talents equally, what really matters is what they do with them.
This parable is not about “if only you work hard you can make a fortune”, because ancient markets could also go up and down and some traders would gain while others would lose.  So the first slave takes a big risk and in giving away 5 talents gains 10 and the second slave takes an equal risk with a smaller sum making 2 talents into 4. The two slaves like the bridesmaids who had enough oil in their lamps to keep them alight for the arrival of the bridegroom are invited into their master’s joy.

But the 3rd slave with just one talent does not take a risk, he buries it in the ground.  Fear drives him to despair, there is no opportunity for him, he only has one tiny talent.  A talent that could only be lost or given up.  Fear of failure, fear of what his master could be like. But is it the same master the other 2 slaves had?  Is it an imagined fear, a misrepresentation of God the Creator?

An Iona evening liturgy has these words in the prayers;

“those who need to forget the God they do not believe in
And meet the God who believes in them.”

The first readers of Matthew were those who lived after the resurrection, those whom the Spirit had bestowed gifts upon both large and small, the message like the children’s song is “love is not love till you give it away.” That is the path of discipleship, risking the very gift we would love to possess, paved with fear of failure, but ultimately rewarding beyond our expectations. 

And the God we claim to believe in, can create worlds from nothing, can topple kings and nations, and yet loves beyond our imagination and meagre expectations. A God who sends his own Son to show the height, length, breadth and depth of love by giving his life for the whole world.  A God who send the Holy Spirit to embolden believers like you and I to give away the love we receive in the full measure we receive it, and enter into the joy of heaven. 

If that is not exciting I don’t know what else is, there is no need for fear, apathy or indifference and definitely no time for sloth.
Being a follower of Jesus is a bit like being a member of a club, the joining up fee has been paid on the cross on your behalf.  The annual subscription is everything you have got, but bear in mind you have been given grace upon grace to do this.  Love is not love till it is given away.

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