Sunday 15th November  – 2nd Sunday before Advent 


The service is now live-streamed and can be found on the church Facebook page.

Collect

Heavenly Father,
whose blessed Son was revealed
to destroy the works of the devil
and to make us the children of God and heirs of eternal life:
grant that we, having this hope,
may purify ourselves even as he is pure;
that when he shall appear in power and great glory
we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom;
where he is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

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First Reading

1 Thessalonians 5.1-11

Concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you.  For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  When they say, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape!  But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.  So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night.  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.  For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.  Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

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 Gospel

Matthew 25.14-30

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The kingdom of heaven is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.  Then he went away.  The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents.  In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents.  But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.  Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.”   His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”   And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.”   His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”

Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.  Here you have what is yours.”   But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave!  You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter?  Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.  So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.  For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.  As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” ’

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 Post Communion Prayer

Gracious Lord,  in this holy sacrament|
you give substance to our hope: bring us at the last
to that fullness of life for which we long;  through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

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Reflection

It would be easy to miss the point of our parable this morning. “So the third servant buried his talent in the ground for safekeeping.” What’s so terrible about that? We might even think that he was unfairly punished simply for being more cautious than the other two servants, who had invested their money to earn the master even more.

The servant claims that his master is a hard one, whose expectations are so great that the fear of failing to meet them has paralysed him – fearing failure, he dared not attempt to succeed. His master, however, condemns him as a lazy good-for-nothing.

Jesus is telling us that we are not here in this world to play safe. Of course we are to avoid doing wrong – that much is essential if we are to be his disciples, but it is not enough. We are to work tirelessly to make the best possible use of our time, our talents and our opportunities.

It’s often easy to look at others—the musician, teacher, artist, doctor and clearly see their gifts.  The truth is, God gives each one of us gifts, though some might not be as obvious as others. Ask yourself this: what fuels my passion? What is it that I love to do and do well? The answer to that question may very well point to your God-given gifts.

The key, of course, is to recognize your gifts and use them for the good of others. Don’t play it safe, Jesus tells us in this parable. Don’t hide your gifts; don’t bury them, like the fearful third servant did, where they can’t impact anyone else. And don’t squander them either, but instead, invest them in growing the kingdom of God.

For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  God does not need any return from us, but He requires it – both for our own good, and for the good of our fellow men and women. Their needs are our opportunities, both to see Christ in them and to be Christ to them:

insofar as you did this to one of the least of these brethren of mine, you did it to me

and

insofar as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.

It is not enough just to avoid doing harm, we must strive also to do all the good that we can – both are necessary, and of course we need God’s help for both.

Some words attributed to St Theresa of Avila remind us of this… maybe you’ve heard them before?

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Amen