Pentecost 24 ~ Parable of the Talents

November 19 2017

READINGS: Judges 4: 1-7 ~ 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-11 ~ Matthew 25: 14-30

We give Thee but Thine own, whate’er the gift may be; All that we have is Thine alone, A trust, O Lord, from Thee.

That doxology pretty much sums up the theology of money, assets and talents in scripture – everything we have, everything we are comes from God and belongs to God. God has simply entrusted us to use those gifts and talents wisely – to invest them in the common good.  Therefore, what we do with our money, assets and talents is important to God.

Not being a fan of the outer darkness where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, I have been thinking about what we have done with the resources / talents with which God has entrusted to the people of this parish.  Well, one of the things we have been entrusted with here is property.

Two years ago, we agreed to join with Almonte United Church to sponsor a Syrian refugee family and to fix up parish house as their new home.  And there was clearing and cleaning, painting and hammering, wiring and plumbing, donating and furnishing and occasionally a little gnashing of teeth. BUT – it was ready when our family finally arrived on Tuesday.

Because of the way we managed our resources and worked together with Almonte United and Holy Name of Mary, Asaad, Alsit, Lana and Elias are no longer refugees in Lebanon but residents of Canada.  And I suspect that God is smiling and saying, Well done thou good and trustworthy servants. You have used the talents and resources with which I entrusted you well.  Carry on.

Sometimes faith communities need a little extra help from God along the way. Even after they reached and settled in the promised land, the Israelites went through some hard times. And when they did they cried out to God who raised up people from in their midst to lead the way. That’s what happens in our first reading when God raises up a female judge named Deborah.

During my first five years in this parish, we lost and average of 2-3 key people a year to death or relocation. Then in 2015 a tidal wave began. Suddenly it was 8 or more generous people each year to death or relocation and there was no way that newcomers and regulars could make up the difference.  Cleaning and office hours were cut –and then came music.

No longer able to pay the going rate for a full-time organist / choir director, we began to fill the void from within; with some folks who have been entrusted with incredible talent.  Wendy, Matthew, John, Dan, Dave, Doris, Sue and Elizabeth all stepped out in faith and invested their talent for the glory of God and in use of this parish. And our singers have done the same.

We know there is still grieving for what was. But there is also new life – a new song emerging in this place.

For as long as I can remember and longer, the bakers in this church have used their talents to cook their hearts out for God and the church.  To get a sense of what that looks like, stop by the hall on a Wednesday or Thursday morning during tourtière season when Ron and his Holy Rollers are preparing those incredible meat pies.  People line up for St. Paul’s tourtières and, as with the Harvest Supper, the profit helps us get a little closer to balancing the budget.

Usually, tourtière season is followed by the Christmas Bazaar and Luncheon but our bakers have asked to take a break this year. Part of good stewardship is not burning out our volunteers.  You will hear more about their idea of the no bake – bake sale and virtual bazaar next week.

This week we are asking you to help begin the budgeting process for 2018.  Your pledge forms are at the back of the church, along with the box for returns.  Thank you, in advance for whatever you can manage to give.

There is so much good work going on in this community because we are using the time, talent and treasure with which we have been entrusted for the commonwealth of God.  And that is their God given, intended purpose. Together we put on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of hope knowing that God still has work for us to do.  May we continue to encourage one another and build up each other, as we continue our journey together.

And may we always keep in mind the words of the Book of Common Prayer over the gifts:

Blessed be Thou Lord God of Israel for ever and ever.  All that is in the heavens and in the earth is thine. All things come of thee and of thine own have w given thee. Amen

Pat Martin +