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Use It Or Lose It

For the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 28

(Lectionary 33) From “Saving the Ants”

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Scripture Reference: Matt. 25:14-30 “… to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.”

Jesus told many parables describing how we need to prepare for when he comes again. He really wanted his disciples to listen. Jesus’ return is something to look forward to, but it is also something for which we need to prepare.

Jesus told “The Parable of the Talents” as a way to show how we should get ready for Jesus’ return. Because “talents” can mean either money or something that you do well, it helps to think about what Jesus meant by telling this story in a new way. Here is a different version of that same story:

One day, a school principal had to go on a long trip. She called her three best students into her office. To the first student, she said, “God has blessed you with an ability to understand computers. I’m going to leave you with all these new computers. I know you’ll be able to make good use of them.”

To the next student she said, “You have been blessed by God with a sense of beauty and design. In the studio I have left bolts of fabric, paint, and other art materials for you.”

To the last student she said, “You have been blessed by God with a listening heart and the ability to solve conflict and to bring friends who are fighting together again. All that I have to leave with you with are kind words and a smile.”

When the principal returned to the school many months later, she went to see what her best students had done with the talents each were given. The first student showed her the library where students could access other libraries and classrooms with cameras that looked in on scientific experiments happening around the world. “Well done!” said the principal, “More computers will be delivered tomorrow for you to use.”

The second student showed her the assembly auditorium that had been transformed into a fantastic stage with scenery and curtains. The principal also saw that this student had painted large murals on the walls. “You have done a splendid job!” exclaimed the principal. “In the art room I have left brightly colored clay. Create any sculpture you like.”

The principal looked for the third student. She crossed the playground where many students were arguing and found the third student crouched behind a tree, ignoring the arguing. She glanced over at her friends fighting, but didn’t move from her spot. The principal was upset. “You could have used your gifts to bring harmony to the playground, but you did nothing,” she said. “Your friends needed you and you did nothing to help them. I am very disappointed in you.”

All of us have been given talents by God. If we do not share our talents, we disappoint God and our wonderful gifts are wasted. If we use our talents to help others, then we can be excited and happy to meet Jesus, knowing that we have done our best with what we have been given.

Prayer: Thank you Lord,  for giving us the ability to do so many wonderful things. We want to use our gifts to help others; help us to do this.


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