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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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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Spotlight: God's ROI

Pentecost 23A

This is a particularly appropriate gospel to contemplate against a backdrop of dramatic swings on Wall Street, of concern for our 401Ks, of general anxiety over the economy. The master has split his portfolio among his servants and he expects a solid ROI (Return On Investment) from every one of his servants. On average, the performance is outstanding. But this master isn't playing the percentages. And neither is ours. He wants us all to do our part.

God has a tremendous investment in each one 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 on me. He doesn't look on us as numbers to be crunched or costs to be 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 his sake… 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 heap of self-indulgence. Christ did not endure Calvary to lead a host of cowards… too afraid to proclaim his love… too timid to build his kingdom.

In this gospel, Jesus tells us to snap out of it… to stick out our chins… to dare to love. It’s not a suggestion. It’s a commandment. It overrides the inhibitions and inertia that cripple our ability to love. C.S. Lewis captured Christ’s challenge to love when he wrote: "To love 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 in Hell."

Let's take a moment to get in touch with God's grace within us. Dig deep. Have we buried his grace in a heap of self-absorption… of ambition… of resentment… of distraction? Are we taking grace for granted, treating it like an insurance policy on salvation… filing it for future reference? God expects a lot better ROI than that.

Each one of us is called to greatness… not to grandiosity, but to greatness. It is the greatness of a couple struggling to raise a Christian family in a hostile, secular world. It is the greatness of a youngster defying peer pressure to do the right thing. It is the greatness of every individual believer faithfully witnessing Christ’s love. It is the greatness of all who carry the cross every day.

The gift of God’s grace makes this greatness possible. But it’s more than a gift. It’s an investment. God expects us to give it back to him with interest… to build his kingdom. Starting with family and friends, let’s share his love deliberately… fearlessly. Let’s take it with us right out the church door. Let’s spread his love wherever we go today. The more we share the love of Christ, the more love we have to give away. And the more we give away, the richer we are. Let’s give God his ROI… his return on investment. You’ll find it pays handsome dividends… in peace… in joy… in eternal partnership with Jesus Christ.

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