(Picture by Chris Darley)
Prayers of Approach and Thanksgiving
We come to you, gracious God,
we who have many talents and we who have few;
we who have much confidence and we who have little;
We come not to give and receive but because you call us and believe in us.
We come in gratitude and in awe.
We come in Jesus’ name.
We bring to you, gracious God, what is yours:
our thanks, our praise, our hearts, our lives.
As we sing, as we celebrate, as we listen and as we pray,
bless each one of us with a sense of your presence
and the reassurance of your love.
In Jesus’ name.
You give us so much, Lord,
trusting us more than we trust ourselves,
giving us more than we think we deserve,
blessing us with opportunities that we are slow to take.
Thank you for believing in us;
help us to believe in ourselves, in one another and in you.
Music: Judge eternal, throned in splendour (R&S 626)
Reading: Matthew 26:14-30
Jesus tells a parable of a man who, before going away, gives his slaves talents (money). When he returns, he holds his slaves accountable for what they have done with the talents. Two have used them wisely, but one has done nothing – and is strongly condemned. He trusted them with the money and expected them to use it.
- Have you ever been trusted to look after something?
- Who took the greatest risk in the story?
- Is there anything in the story that you think is unfair?
Music: Thy kingdom come O God (R&S 638)
The reading invites us to think about what it means to be faithful, what it is that God expects of us and how we should respond. It raises many questions which don’t have easy answers and we have to work hard to discover what it means. This and the two stories which precede and follow it, the wise and foolish bridesmaids and the sheep and the goats, are stories about choices and their consequences.
Like all good stories there is more than one meaning, and reading it at different times and in different circumstances we might find ourselves coming to different conclusions. We could ask ourselves for example, is this a story about money, or about gifts and talents? Is it about the kingdom of heaven, or about our unfair world? And who is the wise servant – some might hold that the one who simply hid the money is opting out of a corrupt and unfair system by refusing to participate in an economy that rewards the already wealthy and powerful at the expense of the poor and weak.
Placed where it is in the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, amongst warnings of ‘the end’ times, it comes after some startling statements about the nature of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus overturns conventional wisdom about wealth, power and merit when he declares that ‘the last will be first, and the first last.’ (Matt 20:16). Taken together with Jesus’ teaching about authority and the other parables Jesus tells in his last week this juxtaposition encourages us to explore other ways of interpreting this parable.
Is it a simple call to exercise our present responsibilities to the greatest ‘profit’ or given Jesus’ concern for the poor and his challenging of the rich can we sympathise with the one who is thrown out and rejected? And what about the other sort of talents – the skills and gifts we have been given by God. How should we use those? Can we use everything we have to further the Kingdom of God?
Music: Seek ye first the kingdom of God (R&S 512)
Prayers of Intercession
We pray, loving God,
for all those who take risks in our world today:
for those who preach the gospel where it is dangerous to do so;
for those who speak out for justice though it could cost them their lives;
for those who denounce corruption though it costs them their livelihoods;
for those who stand up to temptation and turn down offers of riches;
for those called to be in the armed forces, the rescue services,
the police force, and in any place of work
where they risk their lives to save others.
Lord, bless their faithfulness, reward their courage,
and receive our prayers.
In Jesus’ name.
The Lord’s Prayer
Music: Lord for the years your love has kept and guided (R&S 603)
May you flourish as you use your gifts.
May you grow in faith and wisdom.
And may the blessing of God, Father, Son and holy spirit, prosper your work always.
Rev. Janet Calderley
Prayers adapted from ROOTS © ROOTS for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.