It’s About Grace

by | Nov 15, 2020 | Sermons

It’s About Grace

Grace, it is that most enigmatic part of our walk of faith. We are grateful for it, we need it, but sometimes we struggle to share it, especially with those we find to be difficult. That Parable of the Talents is about abundance, multiplying one thing into many things. It is also about invitation, being invited into God’s plan for creation, sharing the grace. It also provides a warning, not of what God will do to us, but of what we may do to ourselves.

Scripture: Matthew 25: 14-30

ONE DAY FARE SHARE FOOD DRIVE AT ST. ANDREW’S

MONDAY, NOV. 16 9AM-12 NOON

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is always a difficult one for folks in our community who experience homelessness and food insecurity, but COVID-19 has turned a difficult time into a dangerous one for many in Cobourg and the surrounding area.

Fortunately, you can help—and we’re making it easier than ever to do so!

Drop off your non-perishable items on the front doorstep (no need to go inside) of St. Andrew’s church on MONDAY, NOV. 16 BETWEEN 9AM-12 NOON.

All food donations will go directly to our local Northumberland Fare Share Food Bank (http://www.fareshare.ca/) to be distributed directly to those in need in our community.

Donating couldn’t be safer or easier—just drop your items on the step and go! We’ll take care of the rest.

“Well done, good and faithful servant.” These are words that echo throughout this passage which we refer to as the Parable of the Talents. Well done, good and faithful servant. These are the words spoken to the two servants who take what they are given and multiply it. This passage has been used to focus on financial stewardship in the church for years. To take what we have in money, time and talent and multiply it for the good of the church, for the good of God’s good creation.

Today is Legacy Giving Sunday within the Presbyterian Church in Canada and so our own denomination is no exception to this. We see the correlation between how one simple gift can multiply and form legacy. It is a powerful image and we at St. Andrew’s through the Trust Fund and the Hope & Opportunities Fund have been blessed by legacy gifts of past members which continue to give to us today. These gifts help sustain and fuel the work we do, they are a blessing.

We are also blessed by the regular giving’s, week in and week out from all of you who faithfully give to the church. During this time of pandemic there was concern during the early days that weekly offerings might fall off. Over the past eight months we have found that not to be the case, in fact we discovered the opposite. We discovered and abundance of generosity from the congregation as your contributions to the church are matching what we had budgeted. Not being able to worship in person hasn’t prohibited this community of faith from supporting the work that is ongoing.

Well done, good and faithful servants.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been long and it has been hard. At times it seems like civility over social and physical distancing measures are being tested. There have been protests about it, we all wonder what the right or best thing to do is. We aren’t meeting in person and worshipping together and much about our common life together has changed. Yet, through it all we try to do our best. To keep ourselves and others safe. We also strive to ensure that we continue to do the work of the church. To care for one another and to minister to the wider community that we are a part of.

Over the past eight months I’ve heard from many of you as you’ve shared stories about picking up groceries for a member. Phone calls that you’ve to one another to check, physically distant gatherings in Victoria Park. All of these keep us connected with one another, they remind us of why we truly gather as a community of faith. To demonstrate the care that God has for us by the way that we care for one another. We’ve taken the free gift of grace offered by God and we’ve multiplied it with an outpouring of love and care.

Well done, good and faithful servants.

The Parable of the Talents is a parable of invitation. We are invited into the same grace giving that God provides. Yes, we can focus on the monetary aspect of it, the literal value of a talent as a unit of currency. However, I believe the message is larger than just talking about money. It is about the outpouring of grace, about coopting the language of currency with the language of love.

But what do we do with the third servant? Often, we concern ourselves with the third servant because Jesus tells the parable and we make a connection between the man who goes on a journey and God. We look at the treatment of the third servant and we ask how could God act that way? We get stuck. The only descriptions we have of the third servant come from the man who goes on a journey, the servant is described as ‘wicked and lazy.’ We aren’t told why the third servant is described this way. We do know that the servant describes the man who goes on a journey as ‘harsh’ and that should clue us to something.

Either the man who goes on a journey can’t be God, this isn’t how we describe God or the language we use to describe God. Either this isn’t meant to describe God or the third servant has a distorted view of God. It’s not that the third servant is a bad or terrible person, but somewhere along the way they’ve failed to see the free gift of grace that has been offered to them. They themselves have been unable to operate from a place of grace, instead finding themselves operating from a place of fear and darkness.

Much of this parable should be read as metaphor, the opening sentence keys us to this. “For it is as if a man…” Jesus sets the stage for us by telling us a story. How we elect to interact with that story, respond to that story tells us much about ourselves. Do we respond through a further outpouring of grace? Or do we close ourselves off and relegate ourselves to a place of darkness where there is the gnashing of teeth. Jesus tells the story it is as if a man who is going on a journey, but the individuals on the journey are us. We’ve been gifted this life by God and been called to do things with it. How we respond speaks to the ways that we acknowledge the gift of God, that we call grace.

Dirk Lange puts it like this, “the only conclusion that can be drawn is the third servant is not able to hear or accept the invitation. The third servant has not only hidden the talent, he has buried himself. The third servant is not so much condemned as he condemns himself to a place—a life—that knows not joy, that knows only darkness and wailing and grinding of teeth. This place, as such a life, is self-created.” (Dirk Lange)

Remember what I said earlier, this is a parable of invitation and the third servant is unable to hear or accept the invitation. Our job for ourselves is to hear the invitation, to accept it wholeheartedly. Then once we do to realize the outpouring of grace we’ve been gifted and to pay it forward to those that we meet and encounter on the way.

We are on a journey, a journey we’ve been called on by God. We walk in the way of Jesus and as we walk some of that grace should spill out of our pockets and impact those along the road. Occasionally, we stop and deliberately empty our pockets and every time we do that we are surprised to see that they are full again. This is the gift of grace, we don’t exhaust it, but rather we tap into a well and we share its waters. Jesus tells us “I am the Living Water” an outpouring of grace for each of us.

Walk in that grace.

Share that grace.

Live in joy with that grace.

Embody a generosity of spirit and we too will hear those words:

Well done, good and faithful servant. Amen.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.

St. Andrew’s supports the gathering of community agencies, providing space for the Affordable Housing Committee. Rev. Ellis’ voice is key in advocating for improvements in awareness, empathy and action on key determinants such as housing, income and food security. 

Kristina Nairn

Public Health Nurse, HKPR Health Unit

Donate to St. Andrew's

Thank you for visiting St. Andrew’s. It’s our prayer that this sermon was helpful to your walk of faith. We would ask you to prayerful consider donating to the mission of St. Andrew’s. You can make an online donation through our website. 

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