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Matthew 25: 14-30
14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
As I grow older I have come to believe more and more that the proper and satisfying way to look at life is to see it as a gift - and specifically as a gift from God; the gift-giver. So in the way we live there should be less a sense of entitlement, of something we've earned - instead, the keynote should be one of thankfulness, and a growing sense that in our lives our role is to participate in what we believe God is doing in our lives, our church and our world.
We have just heard the Parable of the Talents, in which Jesus tells the story of a man who went on a journey and before he went, gave sums of money to his servants to make use of. Two rise to the challenge, one buries his talent out of fear and is roundly reprimanded. The lesson seems to be that whatever hand we are dealt in life, in terms of health, wealth, background, opportunity etc., what really matters is what use we make of the opportunities and gifts we have, and how, if we are open to God, He will help us make the most of what we have been given.
It's interesting that the story is about TALENTS, which were, in 1st century Palestine, units of money (quite big ones) and from that monetary unit we get our modern meaning of talent - a gift or ability. Today we are launching the congregational part of the Inspire! Appeal. The PCC has committed the congregation to raise £200,000 plus towards the interior redecoration and refurbishment of our lovely church, as Phase III of our overall refurbishment project.
You may look around and think that the interior looks quite clean and good: if you look closer you will see that over the years the sparkle has become dulled and it is in need of a good clean and beautify of the interior - and there are three specific ways you can become involved, set out in a splendid pack.
First, you can simply offer a sum of money, and we now have the facility for text-giving. You can give from as little as £1 upwards.
Secondly, we are launching an initiative called 'Wash the Face an Angel'. Which is a creative variant on the buy-a-brick scheme. This splits up the sections and ornaments of our church and offers you the chance to literally make your mark on the interior. Look up, look around you, and see if, within your resources, you can contribute to the refreshing of our church interior.
Thirdly, and this relates very directly to the Parable of the Talents, I am turning myself into the landowner in the Parable and courtesy of the Guild of St Bride, who have generously put up the stake money, I have cash to disperse for you to use and to multiply for the benefit of the appeal.
We already have five volunteers and I invite them now to come up and receive your cash. Go forth and multiply. And I challenge anyone else in the congregation - I'll give you £50 if you can think of a creative way of increasing that by 5%, 10% or more. This scheme will run until Harvest this year on 13th October.
Be as creative as you like - remember, don't bury your talent and Jesus honours risk - takers.
All this is a serious business. We do need to put our beautiful building in good order as responsible stewards, but it can also be fun: and to remind us that we can have fun while doing something important, Bob Bryan is going to articulate in song, with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan, that he's got a little list of things you can do.
Life is a gift from God and we live most fully and satisfyingly when we use the resources and talents we have been given in glad co-operation with God the gift-giver, whose Spirit given at Pentecost, can energise us all. Let's all get involved, whatever our resources, in helping to beautify this church and making it sparkle once again, remembering always that:-
All that is in heaven and earth is thine, All things come from thee, I Lord,And of Thine own do we give Thee. Amen.