The Talents: what will you do with the talent God has given you?
Sunday was a tough hand dealt to the priest. He was given Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18; Psalm 90:1-8; 1 Thessalonias 5:1-11 and Matthew 25: 14-30. All of them are not comfortable passages. And we are Episcopalians so uncomfortability is not where we like to be. We like to be liked. We like happy dealings in the Bible. So his cards read: Be silent before the LORD your GOD (GAWD), which is totally a shoutin methodist's card; We are afraid of your WRATHful indignation, way too baptist; Let us be sober and put on the breastplate of faith and love...doesn't really go with Whiskapalians; all that's left are the talents. It is such a strange passage that I have never really understood before and have even done it in the theatre and not really gotten it. Why would the master punish the slave for keeping his talent? I mean he was not supposed to lose it right?
Father Don put a spin on Matthew that changed my perception. The slave makes a statement: "so I was afraid." Powerful. Fear is so powerful. When God's angel comes to Mary, the first statement is "do not be afraid." Removing the fear clarified the message of the angel to Mary. Back to the servant with the talent, he is afraid. He interprets his master as harsh. No where else in the passage is the master described. His actions with the other two servants show generocity and gratitude, but this one fearful man finds his master as harsh. My priest points out that fear warps our perceptions. When our perception are affected by this fear, our actions become dangerous. We become dangerous to ourselves and to others. And when we act dangerously we begin to believe that we are worthless. Father Don points out that We are not worthless. When we are baptized, we are marked as Christ's own forever and are forever worthy. Doubt is not the opposite of faith, it is faith not yet. Fear is the flipside of Faith.
This is something that I struggle with on a daily basis is my perception. Generally speaking when I see a situation, my initial perception is through the glass bottom of a bottle. Have you ever looked out of the bottom of a bottle? It is a little weird. Not quite right. My perception is never initially quite right. I have to double think when I think. By that I mean that I have an initial thought and then I have to think the right thought: i.e. situation: dog dies, my thought, hmmm....good reason to have a bourbon, right thought: not so much, a drink won't help anything. That is an extreme example. These days it is more like this: my girlfriend dumped me, first thought: evil woman, right thought: gotta pray for her. My perception can harm myself and/or others. I don't know that everyone has to think twice, but I know I do. When I think twice, my talent multiplies and my Master is happy. If I stay in faith it carries me through my warped perception to the other side where fear is removed, faith is ever present and I am always worthy of His love.