Our parish just finished a first-hand experiment using Jesus’ “Parable of the Talents,” found in Matthew 25:14–30.
You’re probably familiar with the story: The lord of a great estate goes away on a far journey, but before he leaves, he entrusts his servants with ‘talents’ (bags of gold) to invest. When the lord returns, he calls his servants to himself, to assess how they invested his money. The majority of servants increased the talents given to them; only one fearful and lazy servant did not. The lord of the estate richly rewarded his ‘worthy’ servants, but cast out the ‘unworthy’ servant from his estate.
In June 2015, using this parable as our guide, we launched our parish “Talent Project.” Fifty-four parishioners accepted the challenge to take a $10 loan from the Parish treasurer and to think of ways to bring forth interest over the summer months. (Lottery tickets were excluded!)
And, lo, just like the talents of the servants in the biblical parable, our parishioners’ ‘bags of gold’ multiplied. At the beginning of summer we had distributed $540, and (at last count), that sum had multiplied to $3,800.
Besides the financial boon to the parish, the project gave us the chance to witness each other’s ingenuity and abilities, like…
Dot’s amazing output of dozens of crocheted-topped dish towels.
Rich’s ingenious design of wooden holders for those memorial cards we all collect from the funerals of family and friends.
Jerry’s construction of birdhouses, made even more cheery by his wife’s winsome hand-painted motifs.
And, Myra’s knack for pulling together—with the help of her daughter and friends—the huge and famous rare and vintage book sale, which was broadcast in a multitude of media outlets and which drew collectors and book-lovers countywide.
And, there were so many others!
This experiment helped us all to wrap our minds around Jesus’ Parable, as we experienced being co-workers with God in multiplying the talents He has given to us, by using our skills: teaching, organizing, building, cooking, performing public relations, understanding finances, and so forth. Clearly, when we applied these gifts to glorify God, He made them effective and brought about a blessed result.
But, there is a deeper meanings to Jesus’ story, on which we also can reflect. I just spoke about this in today’s sermon: how increasing our talents for the Glory of God entails using our God-given virtues. (Read or listen to the sermon.)
Our virtue might be hospitality, being able to draw people to us with a warm and a generous spirit. Or our talent might be patience, with the ability to truly listen to others and to empathize.
Or it might be having a soft heart and helping those who are troubled, conflicted, or addicted, without being judgmental or treating them with contempt.
Or we might have the gift of being a peacemaker, with the ability to bring resolution to problems among people. Or we might have the talent to share God’s Word with others, so that they may receive counsel, direction, and solace. Or we may have the gift of being joyful in the midst of tribulations or being faithful in the middle of the worldly temptations, so that others might witness the virtues of fortitude and integrity.
For sure, our ‘Talent Project’ provided us with fun and healthy competition. But more importantly, it helped us dig deeper into God’s Word.
May He multiply every effort we make for His glory.
Your pastor, Father Steven