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Private Confession: By Appointment

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November 14, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Matthew 25:13–25:30

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
November 15, 2020
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost 24
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Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

For it will be like a man who, about to go on a long journey, called his servants and placed all that he had into their hands. And to the one he gave five talents, two to another, and one to another, each in keeping with his own ability, and then he departed immediately.

He who received the five put them to work, and gained another five. Likewise he who was given two, gained another two. But he who was given the one dug a hole in the ground and hid his lord's treasure.

Now after a long time the master of those servants returned, and came to settle accounts with them. And the one who had received the five talents came and offered five more talents saying, "Master, you placed five talents into my keeping, Look! I have gained another five talents. His master said to him, ‘Well done O servant good and faithful! You have been faithful over a little I will put you in charge over much! Enter into the joy of your master.’”

He who had two talents also approached and said, "Master, you placed two talents into my keeping. Look! I have gained another two talents. His master said to him, ‘Well done O servant, good and faithful, you have been faithful over a little, I will place you in charge of much. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’"

He who was in possession of the one talent also came forward and said, "Master, knowing you to be a relentless man reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter, I was overcome with fear, so I went and hid your talent in the ground, Look! You have what is yours. His master answered him and said, "O servant wicked and lazy. You knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather in places I have not scattered; Should you not therefore have placed my funds with the bankers, so that upon my return I might have realized what was mine, with interest?

“Take then the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents; for to everyone who has, even more will be given; but to him who has not, even what he has will be taken away from him. As for the worthless servant, throw him into the outer darkness; where there will be but weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:13-30)

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Beloved!

The gracious Father who lovingly created all things “visible and invisible” will also, on a day unknown, dismantle it all!

Not capriciously. Not in rage or frustration – though if he did he would have good reason because of our sins. But “God is love” and that is not how he operates. But he will sweep away all that he formed only so that he can create a “New Heaven and New Earth” where righteousness will be at home; where Jesus alone will be Lord; and where the sin, death, sorrow and tears that now plague us will be remembered no more.

That is the peace we want, not the manufactured utopia that the devil offers now, to all who will bow down and worship him. (Mt 4:9)

That is not to say that the present age is unimportant. It is vitally important!

Everyone born into this world must make an eternal choice: either to serve God or to serve himself. This is what the trilogy of parables in Matthew 25 teaches us; they are 3 parables all about the same subject.

Sorting.

Last week it was the sorting out of 5 wise virgins, from the 5 foolish ones.

Today it is the sorting out of 2 servants, good and faithful who used the grace given them to build God’s kingdom, and the 1 wicked servant who did not.

And next week’s gospel describes the final sorting of the sheep on the Lord’s right hand who will “enter into the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world,” and the goats who from the Lord’s left hand go “into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

As this church year comes to a close it asks: which one are you? Not only as individuals, but as the church. Are you wise or foolish? Do you invest in the kingdom, or are you a lone wolf? Did you see Jesus in the face of the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the naked and the imprisoned; or did you leave their needs unattended?

Whichever you are please know today that he who kindly created and sustains all things, will also bring the created order to a close.

The rarely heard prophet Zephaniah (600 BC) says this:

“I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth, declares the LORD. I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, and the rubble with the wicked. I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth, declares the LORD." (Zeph. 1:2-3)

Moses confirms the same in today’s Psalm (90:3) when he says, “You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!”

St. Paul joins the chorus in today’s epistle when he reminds us that the Day of the Lord will come when no one expects it, “like a thief in the night.” (1 Thes 5:2)

And crowning these prophecies Jesus says in today’s parable, “Now after a long time the master of those servants returned, and came to settle accounts with them.” (Mt. 25:19)

And so now let us take a closer look at today’s parable so that we will not be caught unawares.

To understand the parable there are several terms we must make explicit. The “Man” who went on a long journey is Jesus himself. The journey is the time between the Ascension and the Lord’s Return. We are the servants. And the talents, which are Biblical units of money, represent the grace he bestows on each one of us.

Now we can think of this parable on both an individual and an ecclesiastical level.

As individuals what do you do with the grace that God has given you. With the love he has bestowed upon you? Do you let your light so shine before men so that they benefit from your good works, recognize God in you, and are thus brought into the Kingdom?

Or do you bury the love of God in the ground, so that on the last Day when all accounts are settled, you have nothing to show for it?

And on the ecclesiastical level the same question. What do we do with the grace that God has given us? Do we, “Encourage one another and build one another up” by which S. Paul means the very thing we are doing now? Do we give our best efforts to defend and promote the gospel so that others might also receive it?

Or do we care only about ourselves?

There are consequences to each!

Jesus says, “As for the worthless servant, throw him into the outer darkness; where there will be but weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And so like the 5 foolish virgins of last week’s gospel, and the goats of next week’s gospel, anyone who buries God’s grace comes to a bad end.

But to the diligent man our Lord says, "Well done O servant Good and Faithful. You have been faithful over a little, I will put you in charge over much! Enter into the joy of your master.”

May this be the benediction we all hear, for there is none better!