Sermon notes, 22 Pentecost, 2011

One of the curious facts about each one of us is not what we believe or don’t believe about God, but rather what we believe or don’t believe about ourselves.
     Sadly, the most pervasive tendency of Christians today is to be reluctant servants.  It is the belief that if God wants something done, hopefully God will call on someone more able than me to do it.  
     So, this begs the question:  Why are we, as   Christians, reluctant to be servants?
     In our Gospel lesson today Jesus said: “The Kingdom of Heaven is just like a man going abroad who called his household servants together before he departed and handed his property to them to manage”…according to their respective abilities!    
     This does not mean that God is not fair.  It simply means, to those who have been given much, from them much will be required.  It means that everyone has been given something and from each one of us something will be required.  God has a right to expect something from us.
     This story is a glorious reminder to those of us who are forever being hypnotized by the big things in life.  But Jesus, in contrast, was forever calling our attention to the importance of little things…the five loaves and two little fish he used to feed five thousand; faith the size of a mustard seed to move
mountains; a widow’s mite is the most significant offering in church.  All this to remind us that the small and seemingly insignificant are loaded with possibilities!
     The story is about the kingdom of heaven. It is about those who will enter the kingdom and about those who will be refused admission. God does not automatically haul everyone into heaven by some last compelling gesture.  No, God makes heaven our decision.
     With the recent Holy Days and holidays (all Souls, All Saints and Veterans Day), we’ve had souls and saints on our minds and in our hearts.  We all have our own loved ones who are our own saints.  (My great grandma.)
     This Gospel is about risk.  The choice before us is one of being a reluctant servant or a risky servant!
     Tear the haloes off of the heroes and saints of the past, take a good look at them before we put haloes on them and you will see what I mean.
     Moses was a man with blood on his hands; he’d killed an Egyptian, yet this man with a stammer led his people to the promised land.  
     James and John were loud-mouthed fisherman trying to badger Jesus into giving them special seats in heaven.
     Peter was a blundering hulk of a man widely known for making promises he could not keep.
     Paul was an unimpressive little Pharisee determined to persecute every little Christian that crossed his path.
     Saint Therese –the Little Flower– was a woman with a child-eyed view of Christ who promised to shower us with roses from Heaven.
     Stand them up without their haloes and you see them as one talent little people whom God took and twisted their talent into something incredibly significant…so today we call them saints!
     My friends in Christ, many of us, this ornery deacon included, tend to forget, and we live a tragic illusion: the thought that God exists for us, rather than we exist for God; the notion that God exists to
do for us what we want, rather than our existing to do what God wants.  
     God’s biggest problem is not with big, important people.  For one thing, there are only a small number of them in the whole world.  God’s biggest problem is with all of us “one talent” types who believe that no matter what we do it won’t make much difference.  We one talent types do make a difference.  We’re not inadequate and we all matter…to each other…and to God.  AMEN


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