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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Focus: God's ROI

"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.' Matthew 25: 14-30.

This is a very curious gospel to contemplate against a backdrop of financial turmoil and spreading protests. The master has split his portfolio among his servants and he expects a good return on investment (ROI.) On average, the performance is outstanding. But this master isn’t playing the percentages. And neither is ours.

God has a tremendous investment in each of us. He created the universe for our amazement. He raised us from the primal ooze for his glory. He gave us the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for our salvation. No hedging. No shorting. God is “all-in” on you and me. He doesn’t look on us as numbers to be crunched and cost averaged. Each one of us is unique. Each one of us is his beloved. At our baptism, each of us was entrusted with his divine saving grace – the “talent” of the parable.

God expects us to take and use this grace to build his kingdom. God did not play it safe with us. He wants us “all-in” for him. That means daring to take risks for God, the more radical the better. As St. Paul puts it, we must be willing for the world to see us as: fools for Christ’s sake. That means loving when the smart money says hold back. That means giving when it hurts and forgiving when it hurts even more.

The faithful servants took risks. They made themselves vulnerable. But they had faith in their master. They put the talents he gave them to work. They knew “no risk, no reward.” Our master expects his faithful servants to make ourselves vulnerable for his sake. He does not expect us to play it safe – hoarding his grace, burying his love in a cache of selfishness. Christ did not endure Calvary to lead a host of cowards too afraid to proclaim his love, too timid to build his kingdom.

C.S. Lewis captured the crippling nature of fearing to love: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. The alternative… is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the perturbations of love is Hell.”

Let’s take a moment to get in touch with God’s grace within us. Dig deep. Have we buried it beneath layers of self-absorption? Are we taking it for granted, treating it like our private insurance policy on salvation, filing it and forgetting it? God expects a much better ROI than that. Each one of us is called to greatness. He gives it to us in grace. Give it back to him with interest. Build his kingdom. Starting with family and friends, share his love fearlessly with everyone you meet.

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