Lectionary texts for November 15: Matthew 25:14-30; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Text: Gracia Grindal (1943-). Tune: João Wilson Faustini
1. Daylight is dawning; hear me as I’m praying
Now in the morning as the world is waking;
Hear my petitions, all that I am saying,
Hear my petitions.
2. Daylight is dawning; with your love surround me;
Give me the strength to serve all those around me,
Courage to love the ones whose needs have found me,
Courage to love them.
3. Daylight is dawning; help me serve my neighbor;
Give me the love I need to do this labor,
Talents I need to bring the weak your favor,
Talents to serve them.
4. Daylight is dawning; thanks for all you’ve given:
Goodness and mercy from the courts of heaven;
Help me to be for others yeast and leaven,
Help me this morning.
Copyright 2015 Wayne Leupold Editions
The parable of the talents is rich. John Milton wrote one of his greatest sonnets on it. (See below) It is frequently used as a parable for Stewardship Sundays which fall about now. Not a bad sermon to hear when all churches are hurting for support. Give to them, they need it!
It could be a sermon about managing your money. Margaret Thatcher thought it showed the way capitalism worked. Better to invest the talent so it grows rather than hide it in the mattress. Also a good lesson.
The mystery of the parable, however, for most of us is the treatment of the third steward. None of them are told what to do with their windfalls from the master. Two see an opportunity and work to grow the money. The third does not. And when asked about this, he does not take responsibility, but blames the master. “I knew you were a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid.”
First of all, he has a lot of cheek to accuse the master of being a crook, and then say he was afraid. The operative word for this man is fear. Too afraid to risk anything, to act on the trust he has been given means that he turns into a craven and worthless servant.
Some people might be worried that the master takes the one talent and gives it to the one with the most. It doesn’t sound just. If one translates it into the life of faith, however, it is easier to see. Much faith brings more. Little faith grows small
The parable, which we should apply to our lives right now, encourages us to risk what we have for more; there is abundance in our Lord. The one who lives in fear loses everything. The story shows how fear destroys joy--as per the meditation yesterday. This is a sour, unattractive person, grasping onto what he has, fearing to lose it, rather than rejoicing in the abundant life that Jesus gives. Desperately hanging on to what he has, he loses everything. The lesson is clear: if we are not free of fear, we are not free to live fully, nor to serve our neighbor. Fear is like sand in the gears of our lives. Jesus tells this parable to show us how to live with courage; glad and able to serve the world. “Help me this morning!”
This hymn from my A Treasury of Faith, Series A, puts together the Gospel and epistle lessons for the day. The message of courage and service struck me in both texts. It became clear as I was writing, we need courage to be children of light and children of the day as the epistle text has it. In the face of the final judgment, Paul says, “Encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
The hymn can be sung to "Christe Sanctorum" with links below. It came from the Paris Antiphoner 1681 and has that grand French sound.
The composer of the tune below, João Wilson Faustini, has become a friend over the years. A native of Brazil, he studied at the Westminster Choir College at Princeton, NJ where he received a Bachelor of Music, and his MA at the school of music at Union Theological Seminary. He served as pastor of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Newark, New Jersey, where he was also minister of music. He later was organist and choir director at Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He founded the Brazilian Millennium Presbyterian Community in Hillside, NJ, as well. Now retired he lives in a quiet town, Irati, in southern Brazil, in the state of Paraná, which he says is perfect for composers! Over time, he has written many hymns and hymn tunes and is known for having published the largest collection of sacred music in the Portuguese language. He set all 62 hymn texts from my A Treasury of Faith Series A of the Epistles from the Revised Common Lectionary. At present he is publishing the entire collection of my hymns translated into Portuguese. João now tells me that he is reading these blogs and translating hymns that appear here.
Notre Dame University Folk Choir https://youtu.be/UOv2dwLrYW4
Organ from Wellelsley Parish, Scotland
Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
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SONNET BY JOHN MILTON
When I consider how my light is spent, Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, And that one Talent which is death to hide Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest he returning chide; “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?” I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest: They also serve who only stand and wait.”