The following is a draft of this Sunday’s sermon at Zion “Goshert’s” United Church of Christ, Lebanon, PA. What I like about what I am working through in this sermon is that I am giving props to the traditional reading of this parable (the parable of the slaves’ talents) while at the same time turning the traditional reading inside-out. Or at least this is what I was attempting to do, without declaring the mainstream interpretation to be completely wrong or dangerous. I’d love to know what you think. The preaching text is Matt. 25:14-30, which is the Gospel lectionary reading for November 13; this Sunday we welcome a new member into the church, as well.
This story is one of the familiar parables of Jesus, though it isn’t one of the most famous of Jesus’ teaching. A slave owner gives one slave five talents; to another slave, two talents; and to a third slave, one talent, when he is about to go on a long journey. After some time the slave owner returns, and the slave to whom five talents was given somehow had ten total talents, and the one to whom two was given somehow now had four, and the slave owner says that these slaves are trustworthy and that he trusts them to put them in charge of things. But the slave to which was given one buried the money and kept it safe, and only had one to show to the master, and the master curses the slave for not making more money with the one talent. The master uses harsh words, that what talents he has saved for his master shall be taken and given to the more industrious servants, and the lazy slave will be thrown into the darkness, “where there will be gnashing of teeth.” This is what the Kingdom of God is like.
This parable is so deeply entrenched in our culture that the word “talent,” as in “talent show,” America’s Got Talent, or saying that someone is “talented” comes from the way in which Jesus speaks of “talents” in this parable. Read the rest of this entry »