Welcome (Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18)
Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is at hand; the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests. At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, "The LORD will not do good, nor will he do harm." Their wealth shall be plundered, and their houses laid waste. Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them. The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter, the warrior cries aloud there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements.I will bring such distress upon people that they shall walk like the blind; because they have sinned against the LORD, their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung.Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord's wrath; in the fire of his passion the whole earth shall be consumed; for a full, a terrible end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
Preparation: He has made me glad
Call to Worship
Let us praise the God of Truth!
Hallelujah! We seek God’s truth.
Let us praise the God of Peace!
Hallelujah! We seek God’s peace.
Let us praise the God of Love!
Hallelujah! In Christ we know God’s love and so we offer our praise!
Hymn: He leadeth me
you take the night and give us day.
You take our strife and give us peace.
You take our sadness and give us joy.
You take our fear and give us courage.
You take death and give us new life.
O God, you give and you give and you give.
So we come to praise you
and offer our love and loyalty as your willing servants
in the name of Christ who enriches our lives with grace
and in the power of the Spirit who prays within us
when we cannot find the right words to honour you,
God most kind and generous.
you placed your mission in our hands
and gave us gifts to accomplish amazing things in Jesus’ name.
We confess sometimes we’ve taken credit for what your love has done.
Sometimes we’ve called our own desires your will.
Sometimes we’ve stepped back and let others carry responsibilities.
Forgive us when we’ve failed to honour your trust in us.
We pray in Jesus’ name. 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.'"
Sermon: For the unappreciated and ones taken for granted
Last Sunday as we pondered over this parable we looked at how the slaves did not own anything even when they doubled the wealth and the faithful ones were invited into the joy of their master. Today, we will focus on our mental and psychological aspects of what we do with gifts and talents God entrusts us with. Yes, as we discussed last Sunday, we knew that for Christians all things we have, own or receive are not our own, but God’s. This is a bit of a tough way to think. How can things I bought with my hard earned money are not mine, but God’s? In our material world, we possess things we pay for. In Christian world, everything we own is not ours, but God’s and thus to be shared wisely and in ways to glorify God. In other words, we are stewards of God’s creation in the moment of history.
Today, we focus on what happens if we are used and thrown out. Thankfully in the parable, the first two slaves of the parable, ones given five and two talents were appreciated and praised. Entering into the joy of their master, they found affirmation and appreciation for all they have done. The master’s appreciation was affirming and validating. These two slaves were part of their master’s joy and they, too, could share their joy of putting all their efforts. This response from the master gave incredible power to them. Their efforts were fully received even though they only did what they were supposed to do.
What would have happened if the master did not care and simply took what his slaves did as given without appreciating their efforts? What would it mean if all these two able slaves did was taken for granted? How would they have felt if the master demanded without thanks or sharing his joy with them? Would they make great efforts to increase their master’s wealth when they knew nothing would come their way? Why would these slaves do anything extra if their master did not care for what they had done?
In the past two decades, we have seen our world change dramatically. This was reflected in ways companies began laying off people. From the 1990s until 2005, we used to hear how companies were laying off people. As the tech boom affected so many companies, at least big companies like NORTEL began firing people, but there were all kinds of help available for people being fired. There were career counsellors helping the former employees to seek new opportunities, training programs for new areas of jobs, psychological counselling and many other supports were available to the former employees free of charge.
Then from about 2006 onward, we began hearing how the firing process became streamlined and simplified. What that meant was some employees found they were locked out one morning and could not reach their bosses. Others were sent emails indicating that they were fired. In many cases, people were asked to come to a meeting and hundreds and in some cases thousands of employees were informed that they no longer had jobs. Forget about all the difficulties employees would face. They had no parachutes. These employees found themselves out in the cold. Even today similar things are happening all over the world. No appreciation for work that made companies profitable. Just a quick statement either in person or on email or sometimes no communication. People were cut off.
Without being entrusted with work for your talents and gifts, who are you in this world? Without being appreciated for what you provide so hard, what are you in this world? What do you become when you are thrown out this way–not for being lazy–in spite of everything you did for your employer? These are the questions that are being asked by many people in these tough economic times. This is why so many young people talk about work-life balance and are not willing to sacrifice personal health or anything for their employers. They experienced or know of their friends who have experienced how what they did so much for their employers have not been appreciated.
Yes, I also have heard a lot from employers or from the perspective of the companies who are frustrated with young workers who seem to do just enough not to be fired as well as how many young workers express their entitlement to their bosses. This, however, is another discussion. Today, we are centred on the two slaves who did their best when they were entrusted with their master’s wealth.
So what happens when a worker who did one’s best at her job, yet, got fired without much notice? What happens when the firing process is more like a machine driven process through an email or even when a person delivers the message via video conferencing where the video goes out right away after delivering the news? In cases where employees are called into a room, today’s firing process is very abrupt, quick and dismissive. Worse still is the case where employees come to work and find out that door locks are changed and they cannot get inside with just a note on the door saying the company closed.
The shock of losing a job is bad enough when employees did more than they were asked to do, but it is worse when they are treated so inhumanely. This very impersonal and business-like process harms employees who are being let go. They suddenly find themselves as unvalued, un-appreciated, and useless. This feeling of worthlessness becomes greater and greater as all the resumes one sends brings no results. People begin to doubt and wonder if they can do anything anymore. They doubt their abilities.
This is why it is important to be valued. Those who are being fired or let go from companies are not asking much. They feel appreciated and affirmed that even as they are being told that they are being let go if they told their efforts and contributions were valuable. A simple word of thanks would launch them into a new life. This is why what the master does here is more important than you think. When these slaves brought results of their efforts, the master showed his appreciation by inviting them into his joy.
As servants of Christ, we see ourselves in these two slaves who were invited into the master’s joy entering eternal life where Christ’s joy lasts forever. Though in faith we already believe that through his death and resurrection we are invited into eternal life, we are very glad and full of joy over his invitation to enter into his joy, sharing with him this life that has overcome death. In our case our worth comes from Christ’s invitation, not from what our employers may do to us. Our being is not shaken when we are told to pack up and leave because we are appreciated by our Lord.
Christian life is different because it is the life of gratitude. Our affirmation and validation as the people of love, hope and faith come from Christ our Lord. When we stand in Christ who endows us with love, hope and faith, we know we are called into his joy in this world and the world that is yet to come. Of course, we share this joy of Christ with everyone. We have plenty of joy to give to others because our joy flows abundantly not from our hearts but through our hearts from Christ’s hearts to hearts of those who are in despair.
God of all life and each life,
We thank you that you are with us every day,
in each challenge and opportunity.
In our weakness, you are strength.
In our confusion, you light the path ahead.
In our questions, you offer wisdom for our choices.
Stay with us in these days when so much seems uncertain,
and help us to serve you faithfully, when and as we are able.
God of loving kindness:
Thank you for each moment of joy and celebration in our lives:
for love given and received,
for friendships which bring meaning and happiness, even from a distance,
and for family members who show us glimpses of unconditional love.
In all our relationships and interactions,
keep us mindful of your call to see you in each another.
God of the nations,
we worry for the world filled with conflict and division,
when the earth itself is put at risk by destructive human actions.
Guide diplomats and politicians to look beyond short term interests,
and keep the well-being of vulnerable people and the planet in focus.
Open our leaders’ minds and hearts with wisdom
to develop more equitable ways of ordering our common life.
God of healing:
we pray for those who are suffering in these days when winter is closing in.
Draw close to all who fear the future.
Comfort those with pain or problems that seem overwhelming.
Shine the light of your love into our sadness and sorrows
and show us how to comfort and support each other.
God of life:
We thank you for your saints of every age who continue to inspire us,
and for all who have meant the world to us and now live with you.
Keep us in communion with them
and, at the last, bring us all to dwell together in your light.
And now we pray with them in the words that Jesus taught us, saying:
The Lord’s Prayer
Faithful God, we offer humble thanks today for your generosity to us through the Church that bears Christ’s name. Receive our gifts as tokens of our love and loyalty. Use them to sustain the mission of the Church in ways we cannot yet imagine, in a future that you are creating through Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Amen.
Next Sunday afternoon, we will have this year’s Christmas Concert at 2:30 pm. It is our reaching out concert. We are asking everyone to invite family, friends and neighbours to come and enjoy the concert. It is important that everyone will come out and support this very important work of the church as we invite others to join our community of worship.
The first Sunday of Advent, December 3 is our communion Sunday. We ask you to prepare your heart, mind and soul. Come and partake in this holy communion where Christ will feed us again and make us one with him and all his people around the world.
The second Sunday of Advent, December 10 is the Christmas Tree Decoration Sunday.
We are selling tickets for Christmas Turkey Dinner on December 16 at 5:30 pm. The cost of tickets is $25 each (per person).
The third Sunday of Advent, December 17 is the Christmas Carols Sunday. We will be singing lots of Christmas carols.
On the afternoon of December 17 at 2:30 pm the church is presenting Christmas Singalong. Come and join us. Invite anyone who likes to sing.
On the fourth Sunday, December 24, our 10:30 worship will be accompanied by organ as we praise God. On the evening of Sunday, December 24 at 8 pm, with Joan, Mike and John providing music.
On Christmas Day, December 25that 11 am, we will have worship service followed by lunch.
Hymn: Guide me, O Great thou Jehovah