If I could write a letter to me…
Matthew 25:14-30

Can you imagine what it would be like to be able to have your future self write a letter and send it back in time to your present self describing how things have turned out for you?  What about for our three slaves in the parable today, do you think if their future selves could have written them a letter to tell them what the outcome would be that they might have done things a little differently?  Maybe the two who put their talents to good work might not change anything but maybe the one who dug a hole and buried it might have changed his methods.

I’ve spent a bit of time in the last few weeks looking back, pondering, analysing, and processing what’s been happening around here.  We are forced to do this as we approach every annual general meeting, or pastor’s review or district review.  We do this to see how we are tracking and then of course to help us plan what we’re going to do in the future.

Then as I was preparing for this week’s service I looked at the LCA Commission on Worship’s planning page and found that my sermon from three years ago was linked to the gospel reading for today, so I thought I’d check it out and see what I’d written.  Funnily enough three years ago it seems that we were having our annual general meeting on the same Sunday of the church year, the text matched and so did the context.  It was a bit like now being the future and then being the present and seeing what the results have been.

I mentioned in that sermon that we had held our first Blokes BBQ on the preceding Friday night and that it had gone well and that the organisers were pleased with the result.  If they could have seen what that simple night of bread and grilled meat and conversation would turn into what is now a strong and meaningful Shedmen group that has average attendances in the low twenties, they would probably not have believed it.  That group now has meals ranging from cold meat and salad through to roast beef and pork with roast potatoes and vegies.  The discussion has become a Parkinson style interview that digs deeply into who we are as men of faith and encourages sharing far beyond what we do for a living.

This has evolved because the men involved in leading listened to the needs of the guys who were coming along, they are a discerning bunch that need more than blackened meat to satisfy their palettes and they used their gifts and talents wisely in serving both God and their fellow men.  They no longer expect the pastor to be involved in organising, but to just come along and be a part of it just like every other male who is invited to attend.

Just like the good and faithful servant that Jesus described who had abilities and was trusted in accordance with those abilities, our men have been trusted and God has provided for them and their ministry in abundance too.

And that is just one example as I reflected in preparation for today’s AGM.  If we put the gifts and talents God has trusted us with to good use, fruit will come from it.  God has trusted each and every one of you in abundance, far beyond what most of us realise.  Over the last few years we’ve run and couple of different courses to help people discover what their natural giftings are, and many of you have grabbed hold of that and become focussed on an area that you are particularly passionate about or interested in because of those gifts and talents.

Jesus’ parable described servants being entrusted with huge sums of money, far beyond what they could expect to earn in more than a decade, and he has given us more than we can use in a decade too!  God provides us with all the resources and skills we need to function in our calling to make disciples and to baptise and teach them.  Sometimes that makes us complacent or on the other hand even scared that we don’t have what it takes, we fail to trust God and like the foolish servant we bury what has been given to us rather than investing it and growing it. 

In this life we never stop learning and growing, we have an opportunity to seek out God’s will for our lives and to put that into action, to finish well and hear the words spoken to us, “Well done good and faithful servant”.  How much will others be blessed by you putting your gifts into action and service?  If I could write a letter and post it back to Wayne and Rob that described to them exactly what is going on with our men’s ministry right now, they probably wouldn’t believe it.  Who knows what can come of the seeds that are sown through the Holy Spirit working through you in the building up of God’s kingdom right now, during the coming week or in the season of Advent as we take the journey through to Christmas.

As we encounter our Annual General Meeting, do so in the light of recognising your own gifts and the gifts of others who are around us here in Outer Eastern Melbourne.  Give thanks to God for each other and the gifts that God has given them, give thanks for the community God has placed us in and let’s listen for God’s will and direction for us as we wait for his return, living and rejoicing in his many wonderful gifts for us.