This Sunday we will hear the Parable of the Talents. I will be honest: when I was a child and heard this parable, I had a hard time with it, and I am not sure that I have ever outgrown my discomfort. But one word in the reading always caught my attention: “Talent.”
It was usually not explained to me that a talent was a unit of currency. Instead, as I would listen to the preacher drone on and on, I would think about what I understood to be talent: an ability with which you are born, a potential for excellence in some endeavor such as sports, or music, or art. My Mom raised us to believe that our talents were gifts from God, and that it was a sin to not use them to the glory of God.
That is why I, who did not like to draw attention to myself with my homemade haircut and homemade dresses which I hated, found myself with my sibling shoved up in front of my mother’s adult Sunday School class, playing guitar and singing in harmony the 70s folk-rock classic “Put your Hand in the Hand of the Man from Galilee,” trying to avoid eye contact with the parents of my friends and classmates, and knowing that this was going to be legendary in the halls of my junior high by the time Monday rolled around.
Talents were gifts. But they were also responsibilities.
Now I look at this year, and the irony that I am a priest and, in order to stretch the restriction on attendance due to the Coronatide restrictions on worship, I am called upon sing and play guitar in worship frequently, and worse, to do it on camera. Ha ha ha, God. Thanks for your faith in me.
But seriously, talents and the gospel are both gifts from God—and they are both things I do believe we are called to share with others, no matter how uncomfortable that may make us. And it does make us uncomfortable. Actually thinking of these things as gifts rather than obligations might help encourage us more in overcoming out natural circumspection in using these gifts to the glory of God, who gave us memory, reason, and skill, as Prayer C in the Book of Common Prayer so beautifully puts it. And so, perhaps we could ask God to help us have the faith and courage to share God’s gifts that have been given to us with those around us.
You are the author of all our hopes
and the ground of our Being:
we rise to give you thanks and praise.
We thank you for this day to come:
may we serve you in newness of heart with joy.
May we offer You
our talents, time, and treasure,
transformed by the power of your love.
May we work for justice and mercy,
having faith in each other
and in Your holy goodness and lovingkindness.
May we strive to purify ourselves inwardly,
to be worthy vessels for your gospel
of peace and compassion.
Live in us, Lord Christ,
and make us wholly yours:
take all that we are
and renew it through your love.
Send forth your Spirit
to lead us into new life,
that we may walk in the way of Jesus
prayerfully, reverently, and mindfully.
Heal us of our hypocrisy,
and open our hearts to your truth and transformation
as children of Light.
The Rev. Leslie Scoopmire is a writer, musician, and a priest in the Diocese of Missouri. She is rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Ellisville, MO. She posts daily prayers, meditations, and sermons at her blog Abiding In Hope, and collects spiritual writings and images at Poems, Psalms, and Prayers.