Monday, November 14, 2011

God's Economy: No Fear!

It must be tough to prepare a sermon on the parable of the talents in our current climate.  Our pastor began his sermon by saying, "The last few years have plucked at our tail feathers of risk taking."

He reminded us that the 5 talents would represent 75 years of earning.  yet he went on to say that this parable is not an economic one, at least not the way stewardship campaigns would approach it.

He quoted Kelly Fryer, who says in Baptism, we all get a job to do, that our job is to determine our vocation and where it fits with the work that needs to be done in the world.

I'm uncomfortable with the ending of the parable, especially when it comes to seeing the master as God.  I do agree with my pastor, who reminds us that in God's economy, there is no room for fear.  I'm also aware of the apocalyptic nature of these parables, with their tales of watching and waiting and being cast into darkness. 

I'm also aware that this Gospel wasn't written as Jesus was living it.  It was written many decades later, when faithful Christians had been expecting the return of Jesus and were likely getting impatient.  These parables of missing men in charge must have resonated.

I'm grateful to Kathleen Kirk's blog post, which directed me to this blog post which has many interesting viewpoints and quotes from others.  She quotes Alyce McKenzie:  "The Faithful and the Unfaithful Servants (24:45-51), The Ten Bridesmaids (25:1-13), and The Talents (25:14-30) have common features: a powerful figure goes away for a period of time and in his absence people act in two contrasting ways. When he returns, he responds positively to the ones who did well and he judges those who did not. The first parable concerns slaves whose master is delayed. The second concerns bridesmaids when a bridegroom is delayed. This morning’s parable of the talents concerns slaves whose master went on a journey for a long time. The first parable ends just as we would expect – the slave who had gotten drunk and beaten the other slaves was punished. The next two parables, though, feature five bridesmaids and a slave who are judged and condemned, not for acting badly, but for failing to act. They are rebuked and punished for their passivity."

She also quotes Caspar Green's blog:  "The sign that the kingdom is near is the simultaneous widening of the gap between the haves and the have-nots, and the narrowing of options to the two end states of complicity in inhumanity on one hand, or misery and fear on the other. At that point, where people have been reduced to the point of having nothing to lose, a third option becomes thinkable: leaving the old social, political, and economic system altogether and letting the cards fall where they may. And that is exactly what Jesus was contemplating on the Mount of Olives. Two days later, he’d be crucified. A generation later, the temple would lie in ruins. Who knows what empire may fall tomorrow.”

Ah, to leave the old social, political, and economic systems altogether!  Now that's a compelling vision!

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Kristin! Yes, the "failing to act" aspect of this makes me think deeply, as does the burying of one's "talent" (or worth or "wealth")--this connecting also to the "don't hide your light under a bushel" idea.

I appreciate what you've brought out about fearing not! I will now ponder that layer!