This week's author is the Rev. Susan Townsley, Associate for Innovation, Leadership, and Change for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30 (NRSV)‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “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.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “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.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Reflection:“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” So begins the Declaration of Independence, but equal in what sense? There are many ways in which we differ one from another in body, temperament, family and community resources, and in opportunities. This scripture passage almost begs the typical 5-year old’s complaint (hear it in a compelling whine) “It is just not fair!” Why would one receive more than another from the master in the first place? But so be it.
It is what happens after this fact of unequal resourcing that makes for the meat of the matter. Living in Japan taught me to view many things from a collective view. So I always wonder, now, when reading scripture, what would happen if we thought that the word was not for me, but for us, not for you, but for “you all.” Suddenly a passage that used to be about people using their gifts is a pointed word to our churches.
Every church has resources. We’ve been entrusted with them, they are not ours to hoard or hide. To be sure, more resources will probably mean a more splashy return, but the master’s harsh word is about failing to take a risk with what belongs to the master. Turns out the coin of the realm is risk.
Then let us not bury our talents in closed-door worship with the community we’ve known for years. Rather, fling open the doors and invest boldly in the reign of God. Glorious failure will be more sweetly received than fearful maintenance.
Take heart, good churches! You have a coin, a talent, a gift, and blessing. No burying it, church. Now is precisely the time to risk the investment in creative, innovative, and daring ways to make good for God.
Prayer:Holy one, help us be leaders willing risk much for the good returns that God deserves. Help us lead the people and be the church not from the dirty shovel of fear, but from the bold and risky investment for the sake of your reign. Amen
Special Prayer Requests:
- Those grieving or suffering after an earthquake struck along the border of Iran and Iraq, killing over 300 and injuring thousands on Nov. 12;
- the family and friends of Clyde Work, member of First Congregational Church of Guilford and life-long missionary, who died last week (Nov.); and
- those who are serving or have served in our nation's military.
- Those grieving or suffering after a truck driver ran down pedestrians in New York City, killing 8 and injuring at least a dozen others on October 31;
- those grieving or suffering after a shooting at a church in Texas where at least 26 were killed and at least 19 more were wounded on Nov. 5;
- the people of Catalonia and Spain where tension is high after separatists leaders from Catalonia declared independence from Spain on October 27;
- the family of Rev. Sandra Lea Fischer, associate pastor at South Congregational Church in Granby, whose father, Milton Fischer, died October 26;
- the people of Somalia after a car bomb in Mogadishu killed over 350 people on October 14;
- The people of California where wildfires have led to at least 40 deaths and burned more than 100,000 acres;
- the millions of people currently worried about losing health insurance as the White House and Congress consider and enact changes to the current health care system;
- those grieving or suffering after a shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas, which left more than 50 dead and over 400 wounded on Oct. 2
- the people of Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria caused massive devastation on Sept. 20;
- the thousands of child immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as their future becomes unclear after the President's announcement that the program will end in the near future;
- Mark Engstrom, member of the CT Conference Board of Directors, and his wife Nina, who are facing health issues;
- the community of Conway, MA, and the United Congregational Church, UCC, Conway after a tornado touched down on Feb. 25 causing significant structural damage;
- the people of South Sudan where nearly 1 million people are facing famine;
- the members and staff of Thompson Congregational Church after a fire severely damage the building on Dec. 29;
- Michael White, former Operations Manager at Silver Lake Conference Center, who was diagnosed with colon cancer;
- Juliane Silver, the daughter of the Rev. Jim Silver of Middletown, who is in dire need of a liver transplant. We pray that a donor will come forward giving the gift of life and a portion of their liver to Juliane;
- Chacy Eveland, husband of the Rev. Marcia Eveland, pastor of the First Congregational Church UCC of Ansonia, who has been moved to a full-time facility for care of dementia;
- the thousands of migrants worldwide who flee from violence and persecution in search of safety;
- our ecumenical partners in the Kyung-Ki Presbytery in South Korea;
- the Conference's partners working for peace in Colombia amidst violence;
- the leaders of this nation, that they may meet the challenges of the day with insight, wisdom, and compassion;
- this nation, that it may continue its difficult work to end the practices of racism; and
- those serving or living in war or conflict zones around the world, or where terrorists have struck.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
Saugatuck Congregational UCC
Alison Buttrick Patton - P
The Congregational Church of Green's Farms, UCC
Jeffrey P. Rider – SP
Megan Cullip – AP
David Stambaugh - CE
The First Congregational Church of Willimantic
Richard B. Haverly Jr - P
The Federated Church of Willington UCC
Nate Oliver - P
Wilton Congregational Church, UCC
Anne Wright Coffman – P
Lydia Gajdel - Y
November 13, 2017