+ Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost +
15 November 2009
The Question of Talent
I’m afraid we have a rather distorted idea of “talent” nowadays, largely because of the dominant media control of pop culture through shows like “American Idol” or “Britain’s Got Talent.” These shows can turn someone into a star almost overnight given the right combination of circumstances. From a biblical world view, however,talent has very little to do with entertainment, pleasing the judges or winning contests. For the believer, talent is not so much a matter of getting the approval of men as it is being faithful and getting the approval of God.
As we see from today’s lessons, talent has more to do with being wise, faithfully attending the Divine Service and being prepared for the dangerous last days. As the prophet Daniel said, “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” All the baptized have been given talents in Christ to use both within the Christian community and through their vocation in the world to build up the kingdom of God.
1. Talent in Christ makes you shine like the brightness of the sky above
a. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10). That’s you and me!
b. How will many be turned to righteousness? Only through the Word and Spirit of God.
2. Talent in Christ strengthens our community of faith.
a. As we hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering
b. As we meet together faithfully and thus stir one another up to love and good works
3. Talent in Christ defines our vocation in the world
a. We have work to do! Jeremiah 29:4-7, 10-14. “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
b. Love that casts our fear and anxiety can withstand persecution and endure to the end.