We heard one of Jesus’ parables this morning, the Parable of the Talents. A ‘talent’ was not a special ability, like painting or dancing or writing; a talent was a weight of silver or gold. A large weight. The talent referred to in the parable probably weighed about 35kg, and was worth around $18000 or so today.
This parable isn’t too concerned with the first two slaves, who received ten talents (350kg of silver!) and five talents (175kg!).
The main character is the third slave, who received one talent. Still, it’s a lot of silver! And this slave goes and buries it, all 35kg of it. Must have been a dirty great hole! I’d be worried that someone would come along and find it.
Which reminds me of another parable. Can you guess which one? It’s the one about the Treasure Hidden in a Field. Listen:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
In other words: if you have a treasure—dig it up, don’t hide it away! Continue reading
Risking the way of Jesus
1 Thessalonians 5.1-11
As a young boy growing up in England, my attention was often captivated by tales of buried treasure. You’d hear of people finding a Roman coin or a medieval brooch in an ordinary field with a metal detector; but every now and then a real hoard was found.
In 1939, for example, the ‘Sutton Hoo’ treasure was found in Suffolk. It was the site of a seventh century royal burial, with a whole ship interred under the earth. And just in 2009, someone found 5 kg of gold and 2.5 kg of silver dating from the same century. These treasures had been buried for fourteen centuries!
Today’s Gospel Reading tells of buried treasure. A rich man has three servants. Each is given an absolutely amazing amount of money. Ten talents, five talents, one talent, all huge amounts of money.
In English, we speak of our natural gifts as ‘talents’, don’t we? The first time this use of the word ‘talent’ was recorded was 1430. And this meaning of the word ‘talent’ comes from this parable. In the days of Jesus, a ‘talent’ was the largest unit of currency. It was worth about twenty years’ wages for a working man. This huge amount became the word we use for natural gift or attribute.
We often tell this parable about stewardship. So the preacher often asks, How are we using the talents that God has given us? What a great gift this passage is as we bring our stewardship season to a close! Yet to be honest, this parable isn’t really about stewardship. It’s more about taking risks in a world in which the Lord is surely coming.