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.