$10,000 Worth of Ministry

December 2008 Pastor's Newsletter Article

The slave's master said to him, "Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master."

St. Matthew 25:21 & 23

The Parable of the Talents is one of the last stories Jesus tells in St. Matthew's Gospel. In it, a wealthy homeowner leaves town for an extended trip, and entrusts a great deal of his wealth to three of his slaves. One of them is so afraid of the master, that he buries the money entrusted to him so it won't be stolen. When the master returns, he is furious that the slave didn't at least put the money in the bank, so the master would have it back with interest.

The two other slaves fare better. They understand the master. They know he is a man who loves to make money. They realize he didn't give them the money for safe-keeping, but entrusted it to them, with hopes that they would manage it just as he might have. So they invest the money, they double it in the markets, and upon his return they present him with twice as much as he first entrusted to them. It is with them that he shares these words: Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.

We studied this parable at worship on November 16th. We considered the fact that we too have received much, as a trust, from God. Our money, our passions, our gifts and abilities, our very lives are entrusted to us by God, with the expectation that we will put them to work in service of the Gospel. To the extent that we do so, we discover that it is not an overwhelming burden that we bear. Instead, it becomes an experience of great joy, as we become part of the transforming work that God is seeking to do in this world.

To illustrate the parable, each worshipper on November 16th was given a $50 bill (the younger ones received $20). This money was entrusted to worshippers, with the hopes that they would invest it in something they enjoyed, and bring the profits back to worship on The Epiphany of Our Lord  (Tuesday, January 6). On that day we, like the Magi of old, will bring our gifts and present them to honor the Christ child of Bethlehem.

The proceeds of this venture will go to support the new hospital that has recently opened in Arusha, Tanzania - a hospital built by our friends at Selian Lutheran Hospital, just outside that city.

There was a palpable sense of excitement in the Worship Center that morning, as people looked at the money in their hands, and imagined what they would do with it. There was also a sense of excitement as we imagined a congregation that even more clearly understood how the gifts God has given us have been provided so that we might invest ourselves in Christian ministry.

I hope you'll keep these friends of ours in prayer, as they live out this parable over the next seven weeks. And I hope you'll pray for our congregation as well, that we might have a more constant awareness of how and why God has gifted us - in order that we might invest ourselves in ministry.

God's peace to you all,

David J. Risendal, Pastor