Ordinary Time (Proper 28)
Matthew 25:14–30/25:14–31 IV
Receive and Be Trustworthy
Zephaniah 1:7, 12–18; Psalm 90:1–12; 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11; Doctrine and Covenants 164:9b–c
Welcome, Caring and Sharing
Prayer of Intercession
Ever-present God, we bring before you our concerns for our brothers and sisters within the sacred community called Earth. We have received your grace and pray for those who have expressed their needs today and for those needs unknown to us that remain on the hearts of your children. Through Jesus Christ we pray, amen.
Call to Worship
Hymn of Praise
“Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” CCS 53
Sing through twice. Encourage people to try a language other than their own.
OR “God of Wonder, God of Thunder” CCS 18
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
Our sight turns inward as
we remember others who impact our lives.
They pass before us in review and we hopefully ask:
Forgive us for transgressions committed and for compassion withheld.
Hold us all close as unique and worth-full souls.
May we be at peace, one with another. Amen.
For more ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Two readers speak from behind the congregation.
Reader 1: A new day dawns…new beginnings…new discoveries.
Reader 2: Lord, you enlighten our lives and still we live in darkness, afraid to risk. Forgive us we pray.
Reader 1: I have called you by your name because you are my beloved. I knew you before you were born. You are loved.
Reader 2: Lord, at times we do not listen. The noises of our world seem to drown out the sweetness of your still soft voice. Forgive us we pray.
Reader 1: I have prepared the way before you and equipped you for the journey.
Reader 2: Lord, at times we don’t see your path because our focus is on other things of this world. Forgive us we pray.
Reader 1: Each of you, my children, are blessed with talents that, when joined together, create beautiful diversity in the world that I love. Receive my unconditional grace and grow in trust and the knowledge that you belong to me.
People: PRAISE GOD! God has forgiven us and gives us strength to continue the journey to make Christ’s mission our mission.
Matthew 25:14–30/25:14–31 IV
Ask two or three people from different generations to share about discovering God’s blessing of gifts and talents in their lives that have enabled them to move forward in the mission of Christ.
Hymn of Blessing
“Of All the Spirit’s Gifts to Me” CCS 45
OR “Help Us Express Your Love” CCS 621
Based on Matthew 25:14–30/25:14–31 IV
Meditation Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn of Reflection (instrumental solo or vocal ensemble)
“O Living God” CCS 183
“Soften My Heart” (sing twice) CCS 187
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 164:9b–c
The promise we make when living in sacred communities means respecting, caring for, and loving God’s creation. It means using our whole selves to bring God’s love to others. It especially means knowing everyone has worth, protecting God’s sacred creation, and helping those who are hurting.
Video or Story
Mission Story: “Plant Trees for Christ” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlhYcHyDXsE)
OR Share a story about managing God’s wealth through our own financial planning.
Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Hymn of Challenge
“Christ, You Call Us All to Service” CCS 357
OR “Christ Has Called Us to New Visions” CCS 566
Go! Be trustworthy with the gifts with which God has blessed you. Invest in the people you meet each day. Love and bless as you have been loved and blessed. Go in peace.
Ordinary Time (Proper 28)
Exploring the Scripture
This passage records the parable of the talents and is also found in Luke 19. This parable is often interpreted to be about good stewardship of financial resources. Its placement in Luke would support the financial stewardship interpretation. However, its placement in Matthew leads toward a broader interpretation about trusting in God, moving beyond our fears, and taking risks to help set up God’s reign on Earth.
In Matthew, this parable is the third of four stories told by Jesus that give insights about the coming of God’s kingdom.
Through this parable, Jesus is trying to help people trust in what God has already done for us. Jesus teaches that we should respond to God’s invitation to help build God’s vision of shalom and not worry about trying to earn God’s love, which we already have unconditionally.
The return on investment by the slaves who received five and two talents was amazing. Although the master praises their efforts, his response seems understated given the significance of their earnings. The focus of the story quickly moves to the slave who chose to bury his single talent. The master’s response to this slave seems extreme and harsh from the perspective of the slave who was trying to keep the master’s talent safe. The slave’s action seems lazy and misguided from the perspective of the master who trusted the slave to make responsible choices about the use of the talent.
As we go deeper in the story, we realize the slave who buried the talent makes his choice out of fear. The slave does not trust the nature of his master. He is afraid of what the master might do so the slave chooses what he thinks is the least risky path by burying the talent to protect it. The master asks why the slave would lose the safe opportunity to earn interest in the bank if he thought the master was so demanding. Ironically, we recognize the slave’s fear blocked him from making a responsible choice. At a minimum, the slave should have made the safe choice to at least earn guaranteed returns on the talent in the bank. However, if the slave had trusted the master who first trusted him with the talent, the slave would have risked choosing to do all he could to aspire to the master’s intents.
Jesus tells this parable in his last few days of life on Earth. He is in the middle of making a series of choices that are not responsible if his goal is to stay alive. However, we learn from the meaning of the parable and from Jesus’ example, that making responsible choices is about being willing to take risks to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace. It is about choosing to get involved in changing the world based on God’s vision of shalom.
When we fail to trust God and fear that God will harshly judge the choices we make, we sit idle and frozen in our fear. Like the slave, we bury our “talent.” We must remain centered on God’s unconditional love and grace through Jesus Christ. We must recognize God trusts us as stewards of our choices to help set up God’s reign on Earth. This helps us trust God, break free from our fear, and take the risks Jesus took. Like the slaves who created miraculous earnings on their “talents,” we are led by the Holy Spirit to make responsible choices that contribute to God’s restoring purposes on Earth. As we risk making responsible choices like Jesus did, we share in the joy of being God’s kingdom builders.
- We must learn to trust in God’s unconditional love and grace through Jesus Christ.
- God trusts us as stewards who will make responsible choices on how to use all we have received to pursue God’s vision of shalom.
- Making responsible choices requires us to break free from our fears and our wish to “play it safe” and take risks like Jesus did.
Questions to Consider
- How can you stay centered on God’s unconditional love and grace through Jesus Christ to deepen your trust in God?
- Where is God acting in your world and calling you to risk getting involved?
- What gifts has God given you that you can use to help restore God’s vision of shalom through Community of Christ Mission Initiatives?
- What do you fear about taking risks to use your gifts to help change the world?
- How do you overcome your fear and follow the Holy Spirit’s leadings to use your gifts to engage in mission?