Monday, November 14, 2011


Most people probably look at the "talent" referred to in the parable this week as a coin of some sort.  However, a talent was actually a weight or measurement.  It corresponded generally to the mass of water in the volume of an amphora, i.e. a one foot cube. When used as a measure of money, it refers to a talent-weight of gold or of silver.  So, when we hear about the master giving 5 talents to the first slave, 2 to the second and 1 to the third, we're talking about a whole lot of money. 

Let's look at the fact that the talent's original measure was a mass of water that fit within a container.  In other instances, this would be called the capacity of the container, and likely, the master was providing to each servant the greatest (or least) capacity he felt they would be able to handle.  The first slave was obviously a real go-getter, and likely, the 5 talents did not approach the capacity he was capable of handling.  His container would hold a considerably greater amount, a fact the master recognized, and promised to provide him with more responsibilities.  The second slave, would have about half or less the capacity of the first slave, if the master's estimation was correct, and rather than overwhelming him with more than he could handle, the master gave him what he felt his capacity could cope with.  He also did well, doubling the value for his master, and not quite reaching the amount the first slave was originally given, but doing well for himself in his own capacity.  His master rewarded that as well, being willing to provide him with more opportunities to grow, excel and increase his own capacity, or measure.

So then we get to the third slave, and have to wonder - did the master overestimate this slave's capacity?  Was a full talent's measure too much for that slave?  Or is it possible that the slave did not believe in his own capacity, and felt that it was safer to do nothing and return the same amount when the master returned?  Is it possible the slave felt the master was overestimating his capacity?

Not long ago, we had the story of Jesus walking on water to get out to the boat where the disciples were.  And Peter, wanting to believe, finds that when Jesus tells him to walk out to him, he could walk on water, as long as he kept his eyes on Christ.  As soon as Peter's eyes waivered, and he saw the winds and the waves, he faltered, and began to sink.  Jesus knew that Peter's capacity for belief was huge, and showed him that with that belief, all things were possible.  It was only when Peter allowed the outside forces to affect his own belief in his own capacity that he began to sink. 

Switching now to the modern definition of talent, as a gift or skill, do we find ourselves wondering if we're really as gifted or talented as some would describe us?  Or are we possibly just fooling ourselves - God would never find what we have to give worthy of notice, right?  Is it possible that God believes in us a lot more strongly, and has given us the capacity He believes we have, to use, to develop, to grow, so that we in turn can attract others through our own beliefs and capacity?  Is it not the height of our own ego to believe that we know better than God about our talents? 

As I was once advised by a very smart old lady - get out of your own way:  God has use for you, and He believes in you even when you doubt yourself. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Be Prepared

Of course, this was the message from the Gospel this week, and our wonderful interim Priest, PattiAnn Bennett, gave some examples of how being prepared might look.  Our Boy and Girl Scouts practice this motto, but more to be prepared for anything that might happen for which they will be called upon to assist.  Our governmental agencies, particularly FEMA, practice disaster preparedness and what to do, in case...  Individually, we think about where we live, and what might happen, and what we would need to survive what might happen.  Around here that can be anything from canning and preserving to having a sufficient place set up outside should the electricity go out and you need to keep things frozen, having a supply of wood and stuff enough to take care of minor medical problems. 

One of the interesting parts of the Gospel was the fact that individual preparedness was quite important - it wasn't something you could share, nor was it something you could borrow.  You, personally, have to be prepared. 

The Church of Scotland states: 

The parable has over the years been victim to detailed allegorical interpretation, but the main point is surely about being ready and prepared for the coming of the Lord, a day that is unknown in time, and the oil is representative of the good works that show the dedication, preparedness and attentive waiting for the day when the Lord will return and call his own.
Are you awake?  Are you aware that the time of His choosing could occur at any time?  Are you prepared?