Week of November 15

Two more weeks left in the Season After Pentecost.  It is the last Sunday we have green.  Next week will be white and then we enter into Advent.

This week we look at our Gospel lesson.  We hear Jesus tell another parable.  Parables are stories that Jesus uses to answer a question.  By storytelling, Jesus allows us to dig deep and find where we are in the story.  It gives us the tools to look at something differently.  Parables are gifts given to us long before we were born.   Parables are old and the stories they tell are true today, as they were yesterday.  Parables are valuable.  Sometimes parables can be hard to understand or figure out where we are in them or what it means for us.  We keep on coming back and parables will open to us.  Sometimes we find ourselves in different places in the parable or find a different meaning; that is the way it is meant to happen.

In the Bible story, the money is referred to as talents.  I have changed it to money to make it easier to understand.

Bible Story: Matthew 25: 14-30

Jesus said, “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.

“After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

“The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

“The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

“‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’

Meditation:   In today’s scripture story, Jesus tells a story (or a “parable”) about a boss who gives his workers lots and lots of gifts (in the story, these gifts are called talents).  One does not use the gifts given to him and says it is because he was afraid, so better to do nothing than to do event he most practical.  He is punished by the master for not even trying and is told he must give up all that he was given.

I wonder if we changed the story to seeds.  One planted and had a huge harvest from the seeds.  The second one planted and created a beautiful garden of flowers.  The third put the seeds in a drawer doing nothing with them.  The man who gave the seeds comes back and is angry at the third person for not even trying to plant the seeds.

I wonder if we changed it to homework and the third person never did the homework because they were afraid to ask for help.  What would the teacher do?

What other things can we change this story to? I wonder if we thought of this as gifts from God, what do we do to share those gifts with others?  What do we hide away, bury, or let die by never sharing them?  I wonder since fear was the excuse the man used for not investing his money, what this says about fear; how fear kept him from planting, growing, investing, and doing his work.  Fear, procrastination, and laziness can keep us from doing good works, growing, learning, and expanding our gifts. 

Fear can make us stand still.  Fear can make us not leave our house.  Fear limits us.  Talk with your family about the fears you have and what are ways to stop fear from heling you to grow.

Prayer:  Dear God, thank you for all the people we encounter each day and those who help us to grow. Thank you that each person has different gifts and talents. Teach us to be content with what we have and teach us to use our abilities, gifts, and talents no matter how big or small. Help us to remember that the world is interesting because everyone is different and help us to be proud of what we can do. Let us use it to your glory so that people can see you through us. Keep us safe and help us to learn more about you. Amen.

Activities (choose one or more to do during the week.  For links, copy and paste):

  1. Discussion questions- Where do you see yourself in the parable?  Where do you think God is in the story?  What are somethings you can do easily?  What are some things that are hard for you to do?  What are ways you can motivate yourself, when you are feeling lazy or afraid?  What is something you want to try to do that seems hard?
  2. Musical response- We All Have Gifts to Share https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8vfPPfQ0bo
  3. Craft response: Decorate a paper cup or Styrofoam cup.  Fill it with dirt and plant a seed in it.  Take care of it and watch it grow.  Or go through magazines and internet and make a collage of pictures of things you want to do, talents you want to grow, and gifts God has given you and how you can take care of them.
  4. Outreach/community service response: Share your gift with others!  Pick a talent (is it reading, music, math, acting out, creating something) and share it with others.  Make something for a nursing home resident, a neighbor alone, a teacher or the family homeless shelter.  You can make a video of it and share with others too.
  5.  Activity response:  Set up three or four activity stations with simple directions posted at each. Some suggested activities: Count backward from 50 to 1; recite the alphabet; alternate hopping on one foot and clapping for one minute; write one compliment for each of your family members (provide paper and pencils). Once someone has completed the stations, they can add one for others to do.  Keep going until everyone has run through all the stations.
  6.  In-reach response: Sometimes, the nicest thing we can do is help someone who is afraid.  Is there something you can help someone in your family learn more about and become less afraid? Or is there a job to do that keeps getting put off?  Do it together as a family and then celebrate when it is finished.
  7.  Game response:  Write down a list of things everyone is afraid of. Put each on a separate sheet of paper or post-it.  Now play charades acting out the fear.  No words can be spoken.
  8.  Watching the story: The Parable of the Talents https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNH4IjGWI-8

Go to the next page for the Devotion about the Wisdom of Solomon.