Sunday 15 November 2nd Sunday before Advent

This Sunday 15 November there will be a White Horse Team service of Cafe Church on Zoom at 9.45am for 10am start. The service will be led by the team at Holy Trinity.
If you would like to join us please sign up for our e-newsletter on this page or contact us for more information.

Collect for 2nd Sunday before Advent

Heavenly Lord,
you long for the world’s salvation:
stir us from apathy,
restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope
that all creation will one day be healed
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Zephaniah 1: 7, 12 – end

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.

12 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.’
13 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.

14 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.
15 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,
16     a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities
    and against the lofty battlements.

17 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.
18 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.

Psalm 90: 1 8

Lord, you have been our dwelling-place
    in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn us back to dust,
    and say, ‘Turn back, you mortals.’
For a thousand years in your sight
    are like yesterday when it is past,
    or like a watch in the night.

You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning;
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.

For we are consumed by your anger;
    by your wrath we are overwhelmed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your countenance.

1 Thessalonians 5: 1 – 11

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Matthew 25: 14 – 30

14 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 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.” 21 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.” 22 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.” 23 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.” 24 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; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26 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? 27 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. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 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. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Reflection on the Parable of the Talents

I feel it is always a treat to have one of Jesus’ parables read at a morning, or evening service, and today we are invited to reflect on the Parable of the Talents as recorded, and written, by Matthew in his Gospel.

The word talent, however, has several different meanings. The dictionary I consulted gives three main definitions:

  • Talent is an innate ability, aptitude or faculty. e.g. A talent for painting, carpentry, sport etc.
  • The word talent can refer to a person, or persons with such ability e.g. She/he is really good at bringing people together in difficult times.
  • Talents can be any of various units of weight or money, used by the ancient Babylonians, Greek, Romans and others.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word ʽtalent’ or ʽtalents’, I immediately think of personal skills or gifts. Over the years I’ve met a great number of people with a range of individual talents, as I’m sure you have as well, all adding to the great variety of life that we welcome, enjoy and need so much, especially during difficult and worrying times, such as now with Covid-19 dominating our lives in so many ways.

Certainly, as a member of the teaching profession for many years, I have had the joy, and privilege of spotting talent early on in a number of my students. My hope was always that they would develop them further into adult life.

Unfortunately, though, it is easier sometimes to dismiss out talents. To say that something can’t be done, or something just can’t be achieved. Maybe, what we are really saying is “It’s just too much work and I really can’t be bothered.” A bit like the approach taken by the Master’s third slave in the parable story. He was given one talent, one coin, according to his ability, but he hid it in the ground rather than trade it to make a profit – something the other two slaves worked hard to achieve, and then were well rewarded.

Perhaps these words by writer unknown can spur us all into doing what, at first, may seem too difficult, or time consuming a task.

“Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
but she with a chuckle replied
that maybe it couldn’t, but she would be one
who wouldn’t say so till she’d tried.

So, she buckled right in, with a bit of a grin on her face.
If she worried she hid it
And she started to sing, as she tackled the thing
that couldn’t be done. And she did it!”

So, yes with the right drive, enthusiasm, motivation and faith much can be achieved. That’s basically what the Parable of the Talents is all about but let us not forget that at the time of Jesus, a talent was a unit of coinage. His listeners would already have known something about trading in this currency and in the first century Palestine, digging a hole and placing coins in it was a popular way of preserving them. Though probably not so popular with the shrewd business person, like the master in the parable, who was out to make an extra bob or two – and more.

So, when the master returned from his travels, and found out that the third slave had hidden his money rather then invested it, as the other two slaves had done, he was none too pleased. He ordered the third slave to leave his employment, with these words resounding in his ears:

“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.”

Rather blunt, and challenging, words to say the least, especially if we try to square this up with our modern times, and what the pandemic is doing to ordinary families both here and abroad. In a sense, though a valid point is being made. The third slave’s failure to invest his talents, to enable them to develop and grow is a ‘sin’ of omission. The opportunity was there but wasn’t taken up.

We really do need to have the right drive, enthusiasm and motivation in order to recognise, and develop, our God-given talents and reach our full potential as best we can. That way others can benefit as well as ourselves.

Here is a modern quote by Oliver Holmes to reflect upon:
“Alas for those who never sing, but die with all their music in them”

So be it. Amen

Rev’d Margaret Davies