Welcome (Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25)
Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors--Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor--lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many. "Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Then the people answered, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; and the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God." But Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good." And the people said to Joshua, "No, we will serve the LORD!" Then Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD, to serve him." And they said, "We are witnesses." He said, "Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel." The people said to Joshua, "The LORD our God we will serve, and him we will obey." So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem.
Preparation: Freely, freely
Call to Worship:
God of all times and places, we gather to worship you.
We turn our eyes to you and rejoice in your presence.
God of all life and love, we gather to sing your praise.
We turn our eyes to you and marvel at your power and your promise.
God of all wisdom and wonder, we gather to learn from your Son.
We turn our eyes toward Christ and wait for your Word to lead us.
Come, Thou almighty King
God of grace and purpose,
You are the source of our lives and the source of all our possibilities.
You call us to serve in your world
and inspire us to choose a purpose for ourselves
that will express your goodness and mercy.
Jesus has shown us many ways to serve
with courage and compassion.
The Holy Spirit opens doors for us to act
with love and loyalty.
Draw near to us in this time of worship
and show us where you need us to be
so that our lives may bring you honour,
Source, Saviour and Spirit of Life.
God of mercy,
you call us to love our neighbours and serve your purposes.
We confess that this is easier said than done.
When things get complicated, we lose patience and turn away.
When we are unprepared for a challenge,
we excuse ourselves from taking part.
Forgive us, O God.
Renew our willingness to put ourselves on the line for your love. Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30
‘For it is as if 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.”
We know this passage too well. We can tell it over and over without the Bible. Each servant is given money according to one’s ability. Two servants did well. One, yes, the lazy one did not do well at all. It should be noted that in Gospel Matthew this parable follows the parable of the ten brides. There, the wise ones were able to be with the bridegroom while the foolish ones were left out. Here, the lazy one was left out. Preachers through centuries made a great deal out of these two parables. Especially the parable of talents is still well loved by the preachers everywhere. It’s not just the preachers who like this passage. Most Christians take the lesson of this parable to their hearts.
Today, we are not going to look at this passage as most of us regularly do. We will meditate and ponder over the fact that two out of three were good stewards and were able to honour their master with their work. We will not bother with the rewards they received. Yes, two of the three did their best according to their abilities. At this stage, it is important to read that the responses from the master were exactly the same. The one who had greater ability was not praised more than the one with lesser ability. Both were invited to enter into the joy of master in exactly the same way. After all, it is not their wealth that grew, but the wealth of the master. They were the stewards. That was all.
The parable is making one point that we often overlook because it is so easy for us to pass judgement or heap criticisms on the lazy one. Also God’s pronouncement on this slave is an easy one for us to use against those who are not pulling their weights in churches everywhere. Yes, this third person is an easy one to make a lesson on what not to do as Christians. Sadly this focus on the one who failed makes us miss a point that we really need to learn as Christians. This is why today we will put our attention on the two who were praised as good and trustworthy.
To see the point clearly, we need to remember what Jesus told his disciples in Luke 17:7-10.
‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here at once and take your place at the table”? Would you not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink”? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!” ’
Servants doing their work well are still servants doing what they are supposed to do. Servants are expected to do their utmost for their master. Christians, therefore, as servants of Christ are expected to do things as best as they are able as good stewards. By doing our utmost, Christians glorify God by enriching Christ in our service.
In today’s parable two servants did what they were expected to do with the amount of money given to them. Having done the work, they did not become richer. Rather they returned both the original amounts as well as the extra they made. In return the master trusted them with more responsibility. In other words, because they proved themselves as dependable, good and trustworthy servants, they were entrusted with double their responsibility. They, the servants themselves, do not become richer, but they are acknowledged by being able to share in the joy of their master.
This parable ends in a place where today’s people feel uncomfortable. Bluntly put, In our case, even if we put more work in, the benefits do not come to us. It is God who benefits. Yes, it is God who is glorified by what we do. Nothing benefits me. At best, I get more responsibilities because I am trusted. This concept of who benefits from our hard work is contrary to our world view. It is true that in today’s world we work with an understanding that our hard work will be acknowledged and rewarded by increased pay or in some other tangible way like promotions etc. This is why we have no problem seeing the mega-church pastors getting paid 10 times or greater than pastors of small churches. This is why our world, including many Christians, sees nothing wrong with ministers of rich congregations getting paid more while ministers of poor congregations have a hard time meeting their needs.
The parable shows us something entirely different. Wealth belongs to the master. By default in our case wealth and riches belong to God. Our work may contribute to growing God’s wealth and we are invited to share God’s joy, but our wealth does not grow. Our ministers are called to larger or smaller congregations based on their abilities. If they do well, they are given greater responsibility and are entrusted with more tasks to handle. They may add to the numbers by their hard work. These diligent efforts do not equate to higher pay. This is the point that this parable makes. It is the same for everyone who serves God in churches.
After all, we do not serve mammon. We serve our God. In response to our dedicated stewardship, we are entrusted with more responsibility. We rejoice together with our God as we are invited into God’s joy. Two servants who did their best according to their talents were invited into sharing the joy of their master. In serving God we do not seek riches for ourselves or put our efforts to grow our own riches. We serve God. In doing so we serve others in the spirit of loving our neighbours. When we do well God invites us into God’s joy.
God of life,
You open our eyes on the world you love
and show us your presence and your purpose.
We see the wonder of your creation
and the compassion you offer through friend and stranger.
For these gifts we give you thanks.
We pray for those who cannot recognize these gifts
and find themselves lost and alone.
Open their eyes to your presence and our companionship.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
God of justice,
You open our eyes on the world
and show us struggle and conflict.
We see the stressful times around us and the burdens many must carry.
We pray for those whose businesses are struggling;
For producers unsure they will receive a fair return;
For workers uncertain about their jobs or looking for new work;
For families feeling the stress of economic uncertainty.
Open their eyes to new possibilities
and open our eyes to ways we can support them.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
God of compassion,
You open our eyes on the world
and show us suffering and despair.
We see the challenges for health care right around the world.
We pray for communities struggling with AIDS, malaria, and chronic hunger
and for those nearby facing illness, delays in treatment and uncertain outcomes.
Give strength and energy to those who provide care
and courage and hope to all who wait for healing.
Open their eyes to your mercy
and open our eyes to needs we can meet.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
God of wisdom,
You open our eyes on the world and show us its complexities.
We see countries locked in old animosities
and communities overwhelmed by fresh upheaval.
We pray for those displaced by current conflicts and natural disasters.
Open the eyes and ears of leaders to the suffering of their people,
and to solutions as yet untried;
and open our eyes to ways we can participate in resolving situations
which break your heart and ours.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
And so we pray that your kingdom will come among us in the words Jesus taught us:
The Lord’s Prayer
God of purpose and promise, we offer our gifts to help fulfil your purposes on earth. Bless our gifts and our actions so that others will grasp the promise of your love and discover your purpose for their lives, through Christ, our friend and saviour. Amen.
We thank Mike, Joan, Jon, Chris and Ed for doing the fundraising concert. Without them the event would not have been possible. We thank Mike for organizing the entire evening with his boss and friends. We have raised $2,008. ($1,008 from the evening’s donation and $1,000 matching fund) We also thank Deanna for running the mocktail bar throughout the evening. All in all, it was a great evening.
Our next concert is the Christmas Concert on Sunday, November 26 at 3 pm. The House of Light Band will present Christmas music in a fresh new way. We are really looking forward to this concert. Please invite your family, friends, and neighbours. The concert is free. It is our reaching out concert. That means we shamelessly invite everyone to join Drummond Hill.
Bake and Craft Saturdays with Children is on every Saturday at 1:30 pm. We are having wonderful fun baking, eating and doing crafts. Please come and join us. Share your family and friends who have children the invitation.
Saturday Watercolour Painting resumes this coming Saturday, November 18 at 1:30 pm. Please come and join us. Put your mind on drawing to put aside worries for a while.
Christmas Turkey Dinner will take place on Saturday, December 16 at 5:30 pm. The cost will be $25/person. It will be an in-person sit-down dinner.
Let there be love