Matthew 25:14-30

If you're the best, the worst, the youngest, the oldest, the funniest or the ONLY person who does what you do, then we want to hear from you!  That’s the tagline of this year’s auditions for Channel 7’s Australia’s Got Talent.  Next Saturday there will be hundreds if not thousands of people lined up outside of a studio in South Melbourne waiting for their chance to display their talents in front of a panel of judges. 

Some will be doing it for the opportunity to get their fifteen seconds of fame; others will be doing it because they love sharing whatever talent they have with other people.  I’m sure there will be jugglers and singers and performing animals and all sorts of other weird and wonderful acts.  Some will be really talented and some may not be so talented but enjoy doing their thing anyway! Either way, I’m sure they will enjoy themselves.

Maybe we should hold a talent quest, how does OELC’s Got Talent sound?  That way we might flush out some hidden talents that you’ve been keeping buried and haven’t allowed to see the light of day around us.  That might even be a good idea for a fellowship event some time in the future, but talent for entertaining isn’t necessarily the type I’m interested in today. 

When we look initially at the parable of the talents, it appears simply to be talking about amounts of money, but when you look a little deeper, between the lines, the general thrust of the parable is about how we utilise what we have been given.  If this really was to be taken literally, we would be arguing quite strongly in today’s economic climate that to invest money in most areas even in banks might not be the wisest of choices.  So you would almost be able to argue that the third slave did the right thing burying his money, at least it was relatively safe!

But this parable is really about the faithful stewardship of God’s gifts.  Here’s a quote from 1 Corinthians “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.”  God gives us all gifts, according to our ability, he doesn’t give any of us more than we can cope with or use wisely.  Have you stopped at any stage recently to think about the ways that you use the gifts and therefore the talents that God has given you? 

When I look around at the faces in this congregation I can list to myself some of the gifts that you have, and each one of you is different, but I’m constantly surprised at the things people are interested in and enjoy.  In the church we always seem to be looking for another person to put on a roster, for cleaning, or morning tea, or readings, or prayers, and the list goes on and on. 

The hard part is finding the right person for the job.  One of the most important aspects of that is finding a person who enjoys doing a particular task.  There’s nothing worse than having to do something that you really don’t enjoy.  All it does is frustrate you and burn you out!  I’m sure I’ve used this analogy before, but it’s like trying to teach a pig to sing, all it does is frustrate you and annoy the pig.

What I would like to do in this congregation is to help you discover where your talents lie, what are you passionate about? What do you do in your spare time (assuming you have some)?  What do you do to recharge your batteries?   In the process we might discover innovative ways of doing ministry, in the congregation, community and/or schools.  Who knows where it could lead us.

I think the most successful ministries happen when the person organising them is passionate and has the support of those around about them.  You may not see it but I see this community as a place where people are forgiving, you seem to be happy for people to ‘give things a go’.  If they don’t work, no-one is going to get too bent out of shape.  If they do, we can rejoice together and affirm each other by saying, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

In about half an hour we’ll be starting our Annual General Meeting.  In that meeting we’ll be electing members of church council, discussing ways of putting our vision for mission and ministry to this community into action.  I’ve been praying for God to guide us in this process, after all it’s his kingdom, and if he wants it to be built, he will help us to do it.  We have an amazing pool of talent here.  We have people from many parts of the world, with different histories, work abilities, passions and talents.  We’ve been putting much of this to good use, but have some of you buried your talents, just in case the master comes back and deals with you harshly?

I hope not, because in the last couple of weeks I’ve found real joy in doing some things that I’m truly passionate about, and I want you to feel that same thing.  Your church council and your pastors are here to help you, to empower you to use your God given talents in the best way to build you up and to build up the kingdom of God, so that all people might be like the first two slaves in the parable and enter into joy with the master.

There is REAL and TANGIBLE joy in serving in an area of ministry where you feel talented and called.  No it won’t affect your salvation, but in serving others they may get to hear the gospel and come to faith and therefore be saved.

Last night we re-launched our men’s ministry at a blokes BBQ night.  It was amazing to see the joy in the eyes of the organisers as they reflected on the positive outcomes of our gathering.  They have been empowered to lead a ministry that they felt a need for and have been affirmed by the number of men who responded to the invitation.

Who knows what can come from investing our talents so that they kingdom of God may multiply.  There are many things in place already, and I’m sure that if we open our hearts and minds to the leading of the Holy Spirit we will be surprised and filled with joy when we discover where it leads us.  So let’s thank God and rejoice in the gifts and talents he has given us.