the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sunday 11/13/05 Year A - Proper 28

This Week's Texts

Judges 4:1-7
Psalm 123
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Matthew 25:14-30

Supplemental Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

Have You Been Faithful in a Little?

The parable in our Gospel lesson today can be interpreted in many different ways. Jesus did not offer an interpretation, but left it up to the hearers to understand the meaning. Some interpret the parable by seeing some truth in the words of the wicked servant, that the master is harsh man who reaps where he doesn't sow and gathers where he doesn't scatter. In other words he doesn't earn his keep, he extorts from those who work and earn the wealth. In this interpretation, the master is the wealthy and the first two servants are their henchmen. The servant given only one talent is the poor. It is an interesting interpretation, but one that does not meet our needs this morning.

In my understanding of the parable, and you certainly are entitled to your own understanding, is that the master is God. In verse 14, the antecedent of the word "it" is back in verse 1, "The Kingdom of heaven..." The master's estate is the Kingdom. The servants are his people, those who are called by his name. You and me. The term talent is a unit of measure. In total they represent the entire Kingdom. In this parable, God is dividing his kingdom among his people. He is entrusting his servants with the responsibility of maintaining and furthering that Kingdom.

In 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, Paul tells us that God has entrusted us with the "ministry of reconciliation." He calls us Ambassadors for Christ. Listen to what he has to say...

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

In our parable, Jesus is saying to his disciples: "You are the servants of the Lord, you are my ambassadors, I am giving to you this piece of the Kingdom to be your responsibility."

Now it is important to see that the master gave to each servant according to his abiltiy. God does not give us more than we can handle. Do you have those days when you wish you had never gotten out of bed, when nothing you seem to do is right, or you have more to do than you can possibly do? Remmeber that God gives us according to our abilities. To some he gives a religious vocation, to some he gives a responsibility for teaching, or a caring for the needs of others. But to all of us in what ever measure we can handle, he give the ministry of reconcilition. As his ambasadors we are responsible for telling that God forgives our sins and is reconciling the world to himself. The true message is "God loves you and cares for you."

In our parable we have two servants who are good stewards of their portion of the master's kingdom. But there is one who, for reasons of his own, has not done anything with his part of the kingdom. There is nothing to suggest that he was jealous of the amount given the others. But he was afraid. He was afraid to invest his piece of the kingdom. He was afraid of the harshness of the master. And he was skeptical of the sincerety and propriety of the master.

Are you faithful with his trust in you? What are you doing with your piece of the Kingdom? Are you a faithful ambassador, spreading the word that God loves us all and that his forgiveness is for everyone? Including the people in your life and in your circle of influence?

Or are you afraid. Afraid you will be embarrassed. Afraid that people will laugh at you. Are you afraid of failing at the task so you bury the message deep inside you and let others find out the best way they can?

Or are you skeptical of God and his message? Are you not sure that God is real. Do you have doubts that God loves you and cares for you? Do you think that living the Christian life is for the weak and naive?

The master does return to square accouts. If we have been faithful to his charge he will tell us "Well done." And then he will give us harder tasks to perform. Don't be unprepared for his return. Dig up that piece of the Kingdom now. Pull it out of the dark depths where you have hidden it and let it shine so that people will see your light and know that it comes from God himself. Hear what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Christ says "If anyone will come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." And then he gives us the strength to take up that cross and the endurance to follow him.

So, the question is still..."Have you been faithful in a little?"

Let us pray...


Blogger Ryan Fry said...

Thanks for the post. I am, like you, a lay minister. I am a sales manager at a office equipment company (copy, fax, etc). I also am a lay youth pastor. I am adding your site to my favorites. I know that God directed me to your blog. Thanks for sharing and for the thoughts on faithfulness...


11/12/2005 12:12 PM  
Blogger the tentmaker said...

You are always welcome here. May God bless you and your ministry. What you see here is in the public domain. Feel free to use it if it will help you in any way.

11/12/2005 6:10 PM  

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