Homily by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. Francis Episcopal Church, Goldsboro, NC; 19 Nov. 2017, Proper 28
Year A RCL: Judges 4:1-7, Psalm 123, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Matthew 25:14-30
What time is it?
[Wait for answer.]
Notice the element of time in our scriptures today.
Jesus says after a long time the master of the slaves comes & settles accounts.
Paul tells us & the Thessalonians: we don't need anything written about times & seasons because Jesus will come unexpectedly.
Our lesson from Judges says the people have been oppressed 20 years.
Deborah serves as a bright spot in their lives together; a decisive leader, “a fiery woman” who commissions Barak to lead1 an attack. This prophetess is strong in faith & serves as a judge, a warrior, a top political leader, as we read in Bible Women: All Their Words & Why They Matter.2
Our Psalm gives us a sense of time, of people who have had “more than enough” of negative living, people waiting for God to bring better times.
More important than the amount of time is how we use our time. Paul encourages us beloved children of light to keep awake, be sober & use our special “equipment”
– faith, love, & hope of salvation.
We have this “equipment” through Jesus dying for us on the cross, rising from the dead, ascending to heaven, & the Holy Spirit coming to be our guide so we can live as God wants us to & build up each other.
Notice Paul speaks of night & day, of being awake or asleep.
Notice the contrast we hear in Jesus' parable of the talents: 2 of the slaves invest the money. This requires interacting with people.
The fearful slave tries to go it alone. He doesn't talk to anybody about what to do. As the angry master says: you should have invested it with bankers!
This would have required interaction with people.
My friend & colleague in the Diocese of Georgia. The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, points out: “[ONE] talent was a measure of gold worth roughly 15 years’ wages for a day laborer...”3
So we can understand why the master reacts as he does & entrusts the 2 good guys with more responsibility!
They've earned job security.
These men have courage.
Their courage reminds me of 21st century problem solvers Iread about in Saturday's News & Observer4.
Scientists at a California children's hospital have tried the “first-ever gene editing [inside] the body” of a 44-year-old patient “with a rare genetic disorder”.5
[Yes, the 44-year-old is being treated at a children's hospital.]
The possibilities from this internal gene correction opens “a whole new field of medicine...” with potential for treating many diseases.6
What if the doctors' had buried this idea in a
file cabinet instead of investing time, energy & money in it?
Research from UNC-Chapel Hill & Duke University published last week is a “Study [that] supports genetic factor for obesity,” another article says.7 These new findings point to genetic mutations, or defects, as a possible factor in human obesity, & notes more study is needed.8
What if biochemists & researchers bury their notes in a computer file & discontinue investing
time, energy & money in this
research, which requires a team?
Teamwork is essential in many fields. Think of football. . . .
Neither of the 2 North Carolina private high schools 30 miles apart had enough players for football teams this year – even for 8-man football they played in the past.9
Hobgood Academy & Northeast Academy coaches, players & administrators worked together, invested time, literal talents & money to become one team that worked well from the start,10 so well they are state champs this year, as you can read in the article titled, “Neither school had enough players this year for a team – together, they're state champs.”11
Notice: in these 3 examples
people interact & work together.
Think of teamwork we see in our Altar Guild & Flower Guild: We have bread bakers, arrangers of flowers & special displays, teams that set the Altar & clean up, wash & iron linens.
Our teams work well together for us to have beautiful worship.
Support like what we have here as the Body of Christ can keep us going when we fear we don't know what to do with our resources, when we lack resources, when we want to give up like the scared slave.
When we are tempted to hold back what God has entrusted to us/you, think about people in the Bible. Whatever may have you in a holding pattern of fear like the slave with one talent, think:
What if Deborah in our 1st lesson hadn't used her talents?
As Frank Logue reminds us12:
“Living the Gospel always
involves risk. . .
God has shown you [us] great love
& asks only that you [we] share [this]
love with others.
When you [we] take the risk to love,
it is the grace of God
working through you
that does the heavy lifting. . .”
God does the heavy lifting.
Cha, Ariana Eunjung. News & Observer. “Scientists at Calif. Hospital try first-ever gene editing in the body.” From the Washington Post.
“Don't Bury Your Talents”. https://www.sermons4kids.com/ Accessed: 18 Nov. 2017.
Freeman, Lindsay Hardin. Bible Women: All Their Words and Why They Matter. Forward Movement. USA: 2016.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
Logue, The Rev. Canon Frank. “Love Is Risky Business, Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – Nov. 19, 2017.” Accessed: 18 Nov. 2017. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2017/11/12/love-is-risky-business-twenty-fourth-sunday-after-pentecost-november-19-2017/
Murawski, John. News & Observer. “Study supports genetic factor for obesity”.
Pope, Jonas IV. “Neither school had enough players for a team – together, they're state champs. News & Observer.
1 Harper’s Bible Commentary. P. 250.
2 Freeman, Lindsay Hardin. Bible Women: All Their Words & Why They Matter. P.118-119.
3 Logue, The Rev. Canon Frank. “Love Is Risky Business, Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – Nov. 19, 2017.” Accessed: 18 Nov. 2017. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2017/11/12/love-is-risky-business-twenty-fourth-sunday-after-pentecost-november-19-2017/
4 News & Observer. Pp. 6A., 1 A. & 1B,4B.
5 Ibid. Cha, Ariana Eunjung. News & Observer. “Scientists at Calif. Hospital try first-ever gene editing in the body.” P. 6A
7 Ibid. Murawski, John. “Study supports genetic factor for obesity”. Pp. 1A, 7A.
8 Ibid. P. 1A.
9 Ibid. Pope, Jonas IV. “Neither school had enough players for a team – together, they're state champs. Pp. 1B, 4B.
10 Ibid. P. 4B.
11 Ibid. Pope, Jonas IV. “Neither school had enough players for a team – together, they're state champs. Pp. 1B, 4B.
12 Ibid. Logue.