Sermon – November 16, 2014
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
`Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:21
Please be seated.
I think I’ve talked to you about Betsy, the woman I worked for before I went to seminary. I thought about her again as I pondered this Gospel for today. While I’ve been fortunate to have many good people overseeing my work career, I do think my favorite was Betsy.
When I went to work for Betsy, I was 49, so not young in my work career; however, Betsy pointed out so many talents I never acknowledged I had. I learned I love to do historical research, so Betsy often asked me to do that and then to put the words together to draft a speech for her. I learned I loved being a speechwriter!
During one of those wonderful employee evaluations, Betsy told me I was a good writer. Now I do love words and putting them together and I’ve written a lot in my career. I know I can write a sentence that is grammatically correct and gets a point across. But Betsy said I was not only a good writer, but that I should do more writing and more writing that would be published. She gave me plenty of opportunities to work on projects that were published, including co-writing a chapter for the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Social Work. And just yesterday, I received a copy of the latest book with a chapter I co-wrote: Hope Matters: The Power of Social Work, as well as a galley proof of another article that will be published soon in a religious journal.
And Betsy told me I “connected the dots” between people, ideas and organizations in ways she had never seen, so she created a job for me where that’s what I did. And I loved it. I knew I was a connecter and I knew I liked that, but I hadn’t understood that I was unique in seeing how things were connected.
Betsy saw my skills and abilities and gave me every chance to use them. She also gave me helpful information about myself for every task I’ve taken on since that time. I hope you’ve had a person like Betsy or people like her in your life.
And in today’s Gospel, we hear a parable of the master who leaves his property in the care of his servants. This master knows his servants well and gives to each one the amount appropriate to their skill and ability. But one of the servants was afraid of the master, so did not use what was given to him, but buried it in the ground, which incited the anger of the master.
God has given each of us various skills and abilities and expects us to use them for building up God’s Kingdom here on earth… for being Christ to the world. We are not supposed to bury our skills and abilities, hiding them from the world!
I know it’s tough. We’ve been taught not to boast and to try to be humble. There is a line between boasting and stating the facts. In order to not be boastful, we tend to hide our skills and abilities. We don’t want to cross that line.
But God gave us those skills and abilities so we could do good in the world…so we could bring the Kingdom of God to fruition here and now. Our skills and abilities are needed not only in all of our personal endeavors and relationships – our vocation, our family, our friends – but also the Christian community of St. John’s needs our skills and abilities. There are some things in bringing about the Kingdom of God that must be done by a community – that we could not make happen as individuals.
When two or more are gathered together in God’s name, God is in the midst of us, we say in the Prayer of St. Chrysostom. In some places, people can support their own chapels, but most of us need a community to provide a place of meeting, where we can gather, study and pray together. When we pool our resources together, we have a choir, an altar guild, adult forum, learning for children. We can provide a place for children to eat lunch during the summer. We can share our joys and our burdens. We can have a community who loves us, remembers us, and prays for us.
In a few minutes, we will have our Annual meeting. I’m told people don’t come to church for the Annual Meeting. We don’t always like the facts and business side of our life together, do we? And we know a piece of the Annual Meeting involves talking about our money and the money we’d like to have towards making real the vision for the Christian community of St. John’s.
But just like our Gospel today…our master has left us with all of the resources we need to grow, and expand the Kingdom of God. We have the time, talent and treasure of each of us. Our annual meeting is the time each year when the master returns home to see what we’ve done with what we’ve been given. Have we used our time, talent and treasure to increase the presence of Christ in this region or have we just buried our time, talent and treasure in the ground and hidden it from view?
God has given us everything we need and God demands a return equal to what has been given to us. Let’s work together so we can hear God say to us, `Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’