Psalm 90 : 1- 8; Zephaniah 1 : 7, 12 – 18; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25 :14-30
by Local Preacher, Naomi Sharp.
“Time flies when you’re having fun!” But time can crawl by when we feel lonely or bored, and yet again somehow vanish when we are busy, bringing a deadline (for homework, sermon preparation or a grant application) precariously close. Our perception of time depends very much on our circumstances and how we are feeling.
Today’s set readings from the Bible all seem to relate to time in some way or other. Psalm 90 reminds us that as human beings limited by time, we experience things very differently to God of whom the Psalmist writes: A thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night. (Ps 90.4 NRSV). Other passages in Scripture relate God’s eternal viewpoint to His patience and mercy, allowing people opportunity to seek God and respond to God’s love. But today’s other readings take a different angle, reminding us that the “Day of the Lord” will come (Zephaniah, 1 Thessalonians) and that “accounts” will be settled (Matthew).
In Matthew’s gospel particularly (but also in the other passages) the writer seems to be prompting readers not to waste time looking into the future, but to consider their lives in the present. In the story in Matthew 25 : 14-30, three servants are called to account for their work while their master has been absent. They have been given different “talents,” some larger, some smaller, and their master wants to hear what they have done with what they were given. Two of the servants have made use of the opportunities presented to them. Those opportunities were not the same (one was greater, one was smaller) but they are rewarded equally because they both did what they could (see the identically worded verses 21 and 23). The third servant has not made use of the opportunities given and for this they are judged.
This parable is challenging, and we can be put off by what seems like harsh treatment of a timid individual. The danger for us with this, and the other readings, is that we focus our attention on wondering about the nature of the “Day of the Lord” and of how God’s future “calling to account” may take place. I think the heart of the parable, and the other readings, is to focus our thoughts onto how we live now, and how we use the gifts and opportunities God has given to us. The invitation is for us to live to God’s best advantage, using whatever God has put into our hands to use. Not to “bury” those good things and let them be wasted.
I wonder what that might look like for each of us today?
We bless you, Lord God, for the personalities, preferences, skills and spiritual gifts which you have given to us. May we find joy in serving you today with all that we have and all that we are. For the sake of Jesus our Lord. Amen.