Scriptures about Judgment in November. This Sunday is the Parable of the Talents
Lector: Elizabeth Heimbach
Chalice Bearer: Elizabeth Heimbach
Altar Cleanup: Linda Kramer
We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.
Scriptures about Judgment in November. This Sunday is the Parable of the Talents
•Sunday, Nov 19 God’s Garden (children 5-9) meets at 10:15 AM. Children will make cards for grandparents.
Matthew concludes this Lectionary Year A with the weighty subject of judgment from 3 stories from Chapter 25:
Matthew 25:1-13 – Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (Nov. 12) Matthew 25:14-30 – Parable of the Talents (Nov. 19) Matthew 25:31-46 – The Sheep and Goats (Nov. 26)
The three parables in Matthew 25 examine the procedure, preparation, and intention required to enter the Kingdom of God. Here is a Youtube video that covers these three stories. There are some similiarities:
First, in each parable the judgment occurs at the consummation of this age. While the timing of that event is unknown, each follower is to be ready for and anticipate the coming kingdom.
Second, the judgment will render decisions that are eternal in nature,reflecting the status of each human being with regard to his or her eternal relationship to the kingdom. Phrases such as “the darkness outside,” the “fiery furnace,” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” describe eternal separation from the kingdom. They are not simply expressions of grief over a Christian life that did not count for much in the kingdom, for they are figures and phrases representing an eternal exclusion from the presence of God.
With this in view, it has been suggested that salvation in these parables is viewed as a “whole,” not simply as a point of entry. The “sons of the kingdom” and the “sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38) are on opposite sides of the soteriological divide. Those who are rejected are permanently excluded.
Third, the basis for this eternal judgment is the individual’s works. In some cases the emphasis is on faithfulness to a job assigned: perhaps in a picture of preparation for an event, or a picture of the fruit of the believer. But however it was pictured, works were the key to the judgment.
However, Works are not separated from the faith one exercises for entrance to the kingdom for works are evidence of that faith. A true change of heart will be reflected in a person’s life. A lack of that change is apparently enough to prevent entrance into the kingdom. Works are never ultimately separated from the faith of the individual, for it was also shown that works are not in themselves enough to impress the Son of Man positively in His role as judge.
I.Theme – The way of abundance is using and acting on what you have now. Squandering your talents is a sure way to be caught up on the wrong side of the "Day of Judgment."
"Parable of the Talents -John Morgan (1823-1866)
The lectionary readings are here or individually:
God asks us to make appropriate use of our gifts and talents
1. Matthew – Parable of the Talents
2. Thessalonians – Paul – quit worrying about the time of Jesus return and live fully as Children of the light
3. Zaphaniah announces God’s coming judgment against the self-indulgent and complacent
4. Psalm contrast the realm of God with man’s limits but encourages man to live fruitfully within these limits
All of these scriptures, as we prepare for Reign of Christ Sunday, remind us to be prepared to do our part in the reign of God here and now, as we await Christ to come into our lives in a new way. We are called not to become content with the status quo, not to take our fill and turn away from the poor as the people did in Zephaniah’s time. Rather, we are called to do what the first two servants did in the parable of the Talents–to risk what we have been given in order to do greater good in the reign of God. That might mean our reputations in standing with the marginalized, or our own possessions in standing with the poor, or our own contentment in standing with the oppressed. We are called to live as participants in the reign of God here and now. This is not something we are waiting for at the end of our lives, but something we are active in now.
Zephaniah cries out and proclaims the day of the Lord is drawing near, a day of judgment. Zephaniah prophesied just before King Josiah carried out great reforms, both politically and religiously. In Zephaniah’s time, Israel (Northern kingdom) had fallen one hundred years before. Judah (Southern kingdom) was in danger of falling to their enemies and the kings had continued to be corrupt, to worship other gods, to let the wealthy elite stay wealthy and trample upon the poor. Josiah, upon the rediscovery of portions of the Torah that had been lost, will reform the political and religious sphere, but Zephaniah writes just before this time. Zephaniah proclaims judgment for those who have forsaken God’s ways, who have betrayed their people and their God.
Psalm 90: 1-12 remarks on how short human life is, in contrast to the vastness of the life of creation. God is beyond time; God is beyond our understanding, and our lives are short, so we should be humble, grateful for what we have, and repent where we have gone wrong. We are called not to waste our days, but to count them, so “that we may gain a wise heart”
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 are words of encouragement for Paul in this time of waiting for the reign of God to come, in this time of waiting for Christ to come again in a new way into our lives, but also a reminder, as last week’s parable taught us, to keep awake. To be ready. To be prepared for the coming reign of God. This reading is in contrast to the darker tone in early readings from the book.
Matthew 25:14-30 is the second parable of this last chapter before Christ’s anointing, before the preparation for his death. . In the previous parables, he has told us that we need to be prepared for the Second Coming at all times.
A master, before leaving on a journey, entrusts his slaves with his money, “each according to his ability” (v. 15). (A talent was about 15 years’ wages for a laborer, a large sum of money.) Two servants invest the money and earn more (vv. 16, 17); the third simply buries it (v. 18). When the master returns (v. 19), he praises the investors; they, he says, will be made responsible for “many things” (vv. 21, 23), and will “enter into the joy of your master”. But the third slave, admitting that he was afraid of his master’s wrath (v. 24), simply returns the original sum (v. 25). The master chastises him for his wickedness and laziness. This slave loses what he has been given (v. 28) and is condemned to “outer darkness” (v. 30). This would have caused a stir in Jesus’ day, for a rabbinic maxim commends burial of money as a way of protecting it.
But this parable is about the kingdom of heaven, so what is the lesson it teaches? “Weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 30) is a stock phrase for condemnation of the wicked at the Last Day. The master stands for God and the servants for various kinds of people. Yes, God both rewards generously and is a stern judge. He expects us to be good stewards of his gifts. We will be commended and rewarded for faithfully carrying out his mission. Failure to use what he gives us will result in punishment – by separation from him, the essence of goodness. We are expected to make it grow. He is free to distribute his gifts as he sees fit (vv. 28-29).
What does the Christian life consist of? What does God expect from us?
Here’s Jesus’ answer, according to Matthew’s Gospel: “Wait faithfully. Together. Or else.”
Sure, that isn’t an exact quotation, but it sums up — again, according to Matthew — what Jesus says to his followers when he instructs them about how they should live after he has departed from this earth.
Let me address the “or else” part first. That usually attracts the greatest attention.
In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus seems a little infatuated with judgment and retribution. At the conclusion of each of the four parables he tells within Matthew 24:45-25:46, the section that comes just before the plot to seize and kill him springs into action, certain characters don’t fare so well. They are cast out to where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” locked out of a banquet by the guy who presumably invited them in the first place, tossed into “outer darkness,” or punished in “eternal fire.” Along with the book of Revelation, Matthew’s Gospel has generated a large share of distress through the centuries.
Are these promises about judgment authentic warnings spoken by an uncomfortably stern Jesus, or are they brutal revenge fantasies put into his mouth by ancient Christian communities that had lost the ability to trust their own members or to put up with differing opinions and practices? We may never know.
"Recently, a friend of mine wrote me about an experience some years ago that had changed her life. She had gone to an artist’s studio to have her portrait drawn. The artist took his time, asking her a number of questions aimed at drawing her out. Eventually he asked her what she feared most. Her first answer was nuclear war. She mentioned that she had repeatedly had nightmares about nuclear holocaust.
"But the artist said, "No, I don’t believe you. That can’t be right. Something more personal."
"Nancy thought and thought. Finally it dawned on her. "What I fear most is getting to the end of my life and realizing that I had been too fearful — too careful — that I never really used my talents."
"That’s it," the artist said.
Sermon, St. Augustine’s Church, Croton-on-Hudson
November 12-13, 2005
-"He that had received one" – made his having fewer talents than others a pretense for not improving any. Went and hid his master’s money – Reader, art thou doing the same? Art thou hiding the talent God hath lent thee?"
–John Wesley 1703-1791 Wesley’s Notes on the Bible
See Preston Smiles in this Youtube video tell the story and talk about the key messages of the Parable of the Talents.
Odyssey Networks – On Scripture
"Fear is in the air.
" War. Conflict. Economic turmoil. Political victories. Political losses. This is the stuff of the nightly news. And everywhere we look we have a new villain to worry about, a new threat against which we ought to brace, a new sense of hopelessness.
" This is nothing new, of course. The world has always been a scary place. If anything, we have become inured to the greatest threats we might face. With roofs over our heads and weather forecasters to warn us of impending storms and economic structures to cushion us from financial catastrophe, we keep vany dangers at bay.
" And yet in the midst of so much safety and comfort, we seem to search compulsively for something to fear, something to raise our ire, something that will keep us up at night. It is not enough to feel safe apparently; for some reason, fear is too tempting.
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