GRACE, MERCY AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD. ( 1 Timothy 1: 2)
Welcome to our web-worship!
I WILL SING FOR THE ONE I LOVE A SONG ABOUT HIS VINEYARD: MY LOVED ONE HAD A VINEYARD ON A FERTILE HILLSIDE. HE DUG IT UP AND CLEARED IT OF STONES AND PLANTED IT WITH THE CHOICEST VINES. HE BUILT A WATCHTOWER IN IT AND CUT OUT A WINEPRESS AS WELL. THEN HE LOOKED FOR A CROP OF GOOD GRAPES, BUT IT YIELDED ONLY BAD FRUIT…
(Isaiah 5: 1-2)
…TAKE THE TALENT FROM HIM AND GIVE IT TO THE ONE WHO HAS THE TEN TALENTS. FOR EVERYONE WHO HAS WILL BE GIVEN MORE, AND HE WILL HAVE AN ABUNDANCE. WHOEVER DOES NOT HAVE, EVEN WHAT HE HAS WILL BE TAKEN FROM HIM. AND THROW THAT WORTHLESS SERVANT OUTSIDE, INTO THE DARKNESS, WHERE THERE WILL BE WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH. (Matthew 25: 28–30)
Please, read: ISAIAH 5: 1–7 and MATTHEW 25: 14–30.
Life is a gift of God. Planting it, God gave it the capability to yield good fruit. Tragically, there is time when life bears only bad fruit: the plant becomes wild by losing its breed and must be grafted or pruned, or… destroyed. Isaiah describes in a song the disappointment of the Owner and His readiness to give up and destroy the vineyard which didn’t produce the expected fruit. The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed: for righteousness, but heard cries of distress (Isaiah 5: 7), – says the Prophet. Eventually, the Owner-Gardener decided to keep the vineyard, going for a selective cultivation, maintaining the good plants and improving their productivity so the good fruit can be harvested. All it happens through Salvation in Christ as He said: I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful (John 15: 1-2). These are the “whoever believes in him” shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3: 16), and this is how we have to understand Jesus’ parables on God’s Final Judgement, including the present Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25: 14-30.
Talent in ancient times was originally a weight of measurement of 30.2 kilogram / 66lb 9 oz. Its worth depended on the kind of – not perfect sized – coin, whether copper, silver, or gold, weighted for an overall value, and values of this kind needed to be invested to maintain or increase the worthiness. When Jesus told this parable, His listeners were aware of the reality of the message.
The word talent has come into the English language through this parable. Unfortunately, we think of talents primarily as personal abilities, such as singing, playing a musical instrument, or performing in sports. The reference to talent here is focused on whether or not an individual had used wisely the opportunities and spiritual gifts that God had entrusted to him or her. Think of your talent as a godly gift which the Almighty has entrusted you personally. What are you going to do with that trust?
None of these persons in the parable had equal gifts: to one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability (v.15). We all have different gifts of intelligence, physical ability, opportunities, tastes, advantages, initiative-capabilities. In this parable the challenge given to all the servants was to be faithful. The master did not say that they must be successful, to become famous or rich. What God requires of us regarding our gifts is faithfulness. The two servants who were faithful were thanked by their master and given other opportunities for service: – Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! (v. 21) Faithfulness always opens the door for greater service. God has never promised us wealth, prestige, fame or fortune, but a share in His Happiness, which no one can ever take away from us: – the Fullness of Life.
The parable focuses on the man with one talent. He is the one who receives condemnation from his master, losing his talent because he did not use it. If you do not use your muscles by exercising them, they become weaker. If you don’t use your mind, then your thinking abilities are not developed. The same is true with playing musical instruments or performing sports; continual practice is essential. Use it or lose it. It is a reality of life. The servant did not use his talent but buried it in the ground because he was afraid. There are many things we do not do in life out of fear, so in consequence we rather do nothing. Too often, in the face of evil, suffering, pain or the many needs around us, in fear that it may affect us as well, – we decide to do nothing. Our Lord said that words of praise would be given to those who gave a cup of cold water, visited individuals in prison and loneliness, and helped the sick in His name. His harshest words of rebuke were for those who saw human needs and did nothing. Jesus calls us to use our gifts by taking risks in life to advance in faith, rather than just being passive spectators of the events of life around us.
Most of us are ordinary people with average gifts. Many may feel having lesser gifts than others but remember, we all have some gift. These tragic, Pandemic infested times are harsh, sometimes even unbearable. People are suffering and dying of Covid-19 Coronavirus, families are separated, jobs are lost, incomes are cut short, the future seems bleak, anxiety grows, trust and confidence disappears. If ever, true Christianity is really needed now. Sometimes one person can make a huge difference. Look around and use your talents in the most practical way possible. In this island of tight communities, where our ancestors were so obviously supporting each other during those very difficult times, we are challenged again, – if we want to have God on our side – to be faithful servants, using our talents to share our master’s happiness. Look at the disciples Jesus chose. They were not greatly talented individuals by the world’s standards. He chose His disciples from fishermen and ordinary people and as they became Jesus’ followers – as we all are supposed to be – they gave their talents and even their whole lives to Him … and they’ve been richly blessed.
LET US PRAY:
Father God, you tell us not to worry, but it is hard not to, for so much in our times and lives goes wrong. We see news pictures day after day of the Covid-19 Pandemic from across the world, and our hearts go out to those who suffer and die, who mourn and are trying to come to terms with their losses, who work and serve to alleviate this misery, and all who are desperate of the economic and social consequences of this terrible shock on our lives. We know, Lord, that faith offers no exemption from trouble, but help us to remember that you promise strength in time of need, peace in moments of turmoil and comfort in times of grief, and above all, a time when suffering and sorrow will be no more, and your love will be all in all. Loving God, we know that words have their place, but help us to balance them with deeds, putting what we say into practice. To not lose but use our talents in all the ways possible, loving, helping and reaching out to those in need around us. Show us what you would have us do and help us to do it, so that we may be not only pleasing in your sight but also useful in your service. Though we will always fall short, help us, we pray, to be a little more like Jesus, our lives in some way speaking to others of Him. Teach us, that faith in name only is no faith at all – that in order to be real it needs to be living. Hear us Lord, in our quiet prayers, as we bring before you loved ones… neighbours… friends… our Christian sisters and brothers from our fellowship… Church of Scotland… and everywhere… people of other faiths or none… leaders of nations and… whoever is in our heart and mind… Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – Our Father, who art in heaven. AMEN.
ALMIGHTY GOD, THY WORD IS CAST Like seed into the ground; Now let the dew of heaven descend and righteous fruits abound. 2.- Let not the foe of Christ and man This holy seed remove, But give it root in every heart To bring forth fruit of love.3- Let not the world’s deceitful cares The rising plant destroy, But let it yield a hundredfold The fruits of peace and joy. 4.- Oft as the precious seed is sown, Thy quickening grace bestow, That all whose souls the truth receive Its saving power may know. (Church Hymnary 3 – 635)
THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST BE WITH YOUR SPIRIT. AMEN. (Philippians 4: 23)
Sandor, your Minister.