O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God of constant mercy,
who sent your Son to save us:
remind us of your goodness,
increase your grace within us,
that our thankfulness may grow,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 98.1-2, 8-10
Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvellous things.
His own right hand and his holy arm
have won for him the victory.
Let the sea thunder and all that fills it,
the world and all that dwell upon it.
Let the rivers clap their hands
and let the hills ring out together before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
In righteousness shall he judge the world
and the peoples with equity.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus told his disciples this parable: ‘A man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
‘After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His 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.”
‘And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His 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.”
‘Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.”
‘But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”’
For as long as I can remember we have been urged to offer Christ our time, our talents and our treasure. We have been encouraged to offer, in a spirit of self-sacrifice, that which was gifted to us by God. Some, sadly too few, have taken this call seriously, Others, the majority, have treated the notion of such generosity with contempt.
As on other days this week, our reading is inviting us to consider our response to God’s call in our lives. We have been invited to reflect upon our readiness to meet Christ face-to-face. We have been challenged to keep ourselves ready for that moment when we will be called to account for all that has been entrusted into our care by God. Today’s reading brings all of that together in the parable of the talents.
A talent was a specific measure of wealth. One talent was the equivalent of the wages a labourer might expect to earn over the period of twenty years. The notion of being entrusted with ten talents would have been beyond the imaginations of those who heard this parable for the first time. In modern terms it would have been a sum in the region of £5 billion! But, of course, Jesus was not really talking about money. Jesus was talking about the enormity and the all-inclusiveness of God’s generosity to each and every one of us.
We have all received much from God. Our very lives are a gift from God, without taking into account our time, talent and treasure. The servants who were entrusted with their master’s wealth represent us. We are entrusted with much and we are called to use what we are given wisely and profitably. But, the profit we should be seeking is the glory of God and not personal advantage.
Everyone, whether rich or poor, has a unique set of talents that they are called to use in God’s service. Even if we do not have excessive wealth, we all have the capacity to love and serve in our own ways. Some of us have specific talents that can be used to enrich the lives of others. Some of us are able to share material wealth and possessions that far exceed our personal needs. Some have the gift of being able to pray for those in need of God’s forgiveness and healing. Whoever we are we have talents (great riches) that God has given us for the benefit of all.
Let us pray that we might not bury our God-given talents, but rather that we might use them for the good of those amongst whom we live. Let us pray that through our generosity of spirit the lives of others may be made more bearable. Let us pray that we may be true to God’s call to use all that he has showered upon us to his glory and praise.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray that the gifts of God may be rightly used.
Bless the Church with generosity and care for all. Give grace to your people so to use all that has been entrusted to them that they may bring new hope to many and show forth the glory of God.
Bring to a world where dealing is often hard and competitive the spirit of compassion, so that those who gain much may share more generously. Give wisdom to the rich to know that all wealth is the gift of God.
Help us to value more gratefully the gifts we have been given, to develop and to use them for the good of others. Guide with wisdom those who are responsible for the finances of this community.
Have mercy on the poor who have nothing they can develop to ease their burden, and guide them to ways where they may find relief. Raise up from despair those who know they have not fulfilled what they might have done, and open to them again the way they have lost.
We give thanks for those who have completed their task in this world and have entered into the joy of their Master. May they rest in the peace promised to his faithful servants.
We pray as the servants of Christ from whom all good things come.
Prayer for the week
God of glory,
touch our lips with the fire of your Spirit,
that we with all creation
may rejoice to sing your praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.