(Sermon from 15th Nov 2020. Matt 25.14-30. )
DON’T COUNT THE DAYS, BUT MAKE THE DAYS COUNT.
IF you’re able to connect to Facebook then please go and connect to the St Leonards and St Luke’s Seaford facebook page. And new to our website is a tab marked Blog and there you’ll find some old sermons from me and something else, well, you go have a look for yourself.
So this week, each day, I’ve been reading this Gospel reading to you on facebook and then slowly looking at one part of it.
How do you feel about the Master?
Does your mind race to the end bit where we have the weeping and gnashing of teeth?
Or does it remember the beginning bits where the Master entrusts bags of gold to his team? This is a trusting master, he has faith in his workers, he believes in them, invests in them. He doesn’t micro manage them, he doesn’t even give them a target to work for, nor a deadline.
And when he comes back he’s full of praise and reward and encouragement.
Point 1 is God believes in you.
Usually my sermon is about how you need to believe in God, but not today. God trusts you, entrusts to you various talents. God believes in you.
You’re okay, you’ve got this, you can do this. You’re welcome.
Do you think that the person who got the 5 bags is lucky? I’m a little intimidated by people who are totally amazingly brilliant at everything. I call her Mrs Fives.
I love Mrs Fives, and I want her on my team, or I want to be part of her team, but she can be just a little scary! And I would worry that she’s so driven as to never take a little Me Time, a moment to stop and pause and pray and just be and throw stones in the sea.
I think the scariest verse in the bible is ‘To him who has been given much, much will be expected’ (Luke somewhere). I think she has a lot of pressure on her. Don’t be in a rush to wish you were Mrs Fives.
I think most of us think we’re the one who gets Two Bags of Gold. We’re okay, not brilliant, but better off than some.
And that leads quickly to feeling jealous of Mrs Fives and looking down on Onesie as I call him. This is in danger of turning into the 2 Ronnies sketch – I look up to him because he is upper class, and down on him because he is working class. ‘I know my place’!
We forget that this is a parable about Faithfulness. Its not a parable about success. The Master does not say Well done good and successful servant. This is a story about being faithful.
So Mr TwoBags, in his confused superior smug feelings / inferior small feelings needs to remember to find the simple rhythm of grace. The only ability that God asks for is Availability.
But Onesie is paralysed by fear. I’ve been thinking about why he doesn’t ask for help? And I don’t have a good answer. He buries the bag of gold. ‘I was afraid’.
I think that Onesie has misunderstood the task. Its not about success. He thinks he knows how his boss works – ‘I knew you were a hard man’ – that’s his creed.
We don’t know where Onesie has got this idea from but I don’t think the other two thought that way about their master.
I think there’s a love – come and share your master’s happiness! Bosses don’t say that! They say ‘carry on that’s what I pay you for!’
And Onesie expects to be fired. His view of his boss is so joyless, so much fear, that it has paralysed him.
I think there are times when we Christians can get so knicker–twisted about doing the wrong thing that we prefer to do nothing. The trouble with doing nothing is that that means that oppression continues, prejudices go unchecked and we don’t grow, if anything we atrophy.
Fear has a terrible paralysing effect on us. But I can guarantee that every time we don’t try, we will definitely fail.
You see I think this is why the Master speaks back to him in the tones that Onesie expects – you want me to be this sort of a Boss – I can be that boss!?
Earlier I said that most of us think we are Mr Two Bags. But maybe we hope we are Mr Two Bags and we fear that we might be Onesie, that the Master might call us Wicked and Lazy and Worthless. Gosh that’s a horrible thing to say.
The thing is, its not true. There’s two things here that are not true.
Firstly – Onesie is wrong in his understanding of the Master, of God. He has this view that God is horrible and judgemental and impossible to please.
The others don’t see it that way – Mrs Fives and Mr Two Bags get to share in their master’s happiness.
But because of how Onesie sees his Master that then shapes how he goes at this task. Instead of facing his fears he buries them in the sand.
Instead of calling for help, he practices his excuses.
It’s a pleading excuse, its not like the Prodigal son – ‘Father I am no longer worthy to be treated as your son’ instead its more like – You’re simply the most horriblest boss I can think of and so I didn’t try. Maybe that excuse sounded better when it was rehearsed in his head.
The other thing that’s not true – The Master calls him worthless – but that’s not what he thought at the beginning of the parable. At the beginning he was worth, one bag of gold. And don’t say Only One?
We think that a Talent was a measure of weight, about 33kg, and in gold that comes to just short of £1.5m. That’s not worthless.
The Master saw Onesie and really thought he might rise to the challenge might make something of himself.
But Onesie has hated this assignment from day one. He has hated the master for giving it to him, I suggest he’s hated himself for being unable to call for help, he’s wasted his time thinking up excuses.
This is the very definition of the Unlived Life.
Please Don’t count the days, but let the days count.
When Onesie says I knew you were like this – we don’t have to believe him. Clearly the other two don’t think of the Master like this – so what’s your default view of God? Is it one who is keen to share his happiness with you or one who is demanding and scary?
Onesie is wrong about God, and that leads him to a life of fear, to an unlived life. Onesie thinks he is worthless. But he isn’t. But the life that he has been living, well, it might as well have been worthless.
So this is the worst part of the parable. Onesie has isolated himself from day one of this task. All this time, he has been weeping and gnashing his teeth, dreading the day of the Lord, the return of his Master.
And now here it is. And the punishment.
Is simply more of the same.
Hell for Onesie is a continuation of the life he is living now. He has made his own private hell and he has been living in it for years. Death and hell wont really seem very different to the lifeless life that he is living now.
Please Don’t sit there and count the days until we are all able to back to normal, but make each day count. Please call out for help, please take a hold of the gifts that God has given you and use them to bless others. You are not worthless.
Onesie is not worthless, His master believes in him to the tune of £1.5m, but Onesie does not believe in himself (gosh that sounds like a horrible naff Disney sort of thing to say) – but even though God believes in him, he doesn’t believe in himself.
Onesie has decided that he is worthless and that God is horrible and this is the life that he lives full of fear and and bitterness and excuses, and he has locked himself into his own private hell.
God doesn’t need to judge him. He has judged himself.
This parable was never about success. Its about being Faithful. This was never about meeting targets or deadlines, it was always about sharing your Master’s happiness. God believes in you, he trusts you, so hear his calling, enjoy the gifts he gives, use them to bless others, to encourage others, to build others up.
Don’t count the days, but make the days count. Amen.