If you don’t use it…
Luke 19:11-26

You’ve all heard the saying “If you don’t use it you lose it”, it’s a strong theme within our Gospel reading today.  The slave who wrapped up his money in a hanky and shoved it in his pocket decided not to put it to good use, and when the ruler came back and asked to see what result he had managed, more than just losing in, he had it taken away!

And of course it would be easy to focus on the one that has the money taken away because that’s what the text finishes off on, but in doing so we would miss some critical elements of the reading.  As you may have noticed, there were also two who were rewarded for their wise stewardship of the money that was trusted to their care.  So those who did “use it” were rewarded for their actions and the one that didn’t was for all intents and purposes punished.

We not only encounter two extremes in the text, but we come to on the last Sunday of the church year, and a week after our Annual General Meeting where we have celebrated many positive things that have been happening in our community in the last year.  Usually we get upset about the things that haven’t gone as well as we had hoped, and counter that with the things that have.  I felt that this year there was an overarching optimism even in the midst of financial difficulties.  That sure is something to be thankful and to praise God for!  You might say that we have been ‘using it’ in our community.

But what is ‘it’?  For the slaves in the text the ‘it’ was the money that the ruler had trusted them with, which in the version we used today has been translated as ten pounds.  Now that sounds a lot but in fact it is a relatively small amount, less than a day’s wages.  What is ‘it’ for us, today in this lovely pocket of outer Eastern Melbourne?  What has our ruler trusted us with?  Our time our money and our possessions, but more than that, we have been given a commission, to go and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that Jesus has commanded us.  The biggest thing that we have been trusted with is the Gospel.  So if we don’t use that will we lose it?

Let’s think about it, today we have seen Emily baptised, she has been brought here by her parents in faith, to be baptised as Jesus commanded.  Jesus said to bring the little children to him and so we do.  We also hear from Scripture in the rite of baptism that through baptism our heavenly father forgives our sins and unites us with our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we share in his death and resurrection and the Holy Spirit renews us and gives us eternal life.

So if we receive that through baptism, can we lose it?  Only if we reject it, but God never stops loving us, and Jesus has promised to be with us to the very end of the age, so he doesn’t give up on us.  Think about what happens with some form of knowledge that you’ve built up.  Some things you retain like a photographic memory, but other things you need to keep up with to get the best value from them.  Say you learn another language, unless you practice it constantly it fades, even if it was your ‘mother tongue’ and you move to a country where another language is spoken the original language starts to fade from lack of use.

Relationships are like that too.  If you don’t contact a friend for a while you start to lose touch.  Over a week or two it isn’t too bad, but if it stretches out to months or years important things happen that change a person’s outlook on life.  We need to maintain a relationship with God to gain the best from it, we need to keep in touch.  The practice of spending time with God worshipping him, praying with him, talking with him and listening to him through his Word and prayer builds relationship, we get to know God better and his will for our lives.  We are uplifted and strengthened by having that close relationship.  No that close relationship won’t change the fact that in baptism you received eternal life, but it can change your outlook on life and the connection you have with others.

God has trusted us with the gift of the gospel, his good news for all people that Jesus came to sacrifice himself for us, so that all may receive eternal life.  Yep that sounds a bit far fetched for many people, a bit ‘airy fairy’, but when the seeds are sewn they may just take root, even if they fall on hard ground.  Once again it comes down to building trusting relationships.  Who would you listen to more, a friend, work colleague or acquaintance or someone standing on a street corner with a big black bible in their hand shouting that the kingdom of God is at hand? 

We have the gift of God’s good news for the world, we have been trusted with it, with the help of the Holy Spirit we can share that through our thoughts, words and deeds. 

Remember the slaves who were rewarded, you too will be rewarded for your faithful use of the Good News.

Amen

This sermon closed with a video that is copyrighted.  It encouraged the congregation to reach out in love to those with whom we have regular contact, our neighbours, family, friends and work colleagues.