The Message

The old Dirty Shamer got the chance to preach yesterday. Here's the gist.

Matthew 25.14ff tells the parable of the land owner who went away on a journey, but before he did, he gave out talents to his servants. One got 5, another got 2 and the last servant got 1. The owner goes away and while he's gone, the 5 and 2 talent servants both double their stuff. The Bible doesn't say stuff, but you get what I mean. The 1 talent servant gets scared and hides his in the ground; at least he can give back what he got. The owner returns and the first two servants get "well dones" and high fives all-around. The 1 talent servant gets raked over the coals, with the owner saying, "At least you could have put my stuff in the bank where it would have drawn interest."

I asked folks yesterday to wonder with me a little: wonder if those three servants are all the same person? What if there was just one servant and the description of talents and amounts refers to days or weeks or seasons of his life? Yes, that's not what the text says, but what if you played with the parable in that way?

If you can wonder in that way, then you come up with a guy waking up some days and they are 5 talent days. Everything he touches turns gold, opportunities open up like flowers looking for rain, the sun is shining so bright he has to wear shades, and before he closes his eyes that night, the thought is "well done." Then one day, he wakes up and it's a 2 talent day. It's still a day full of engaging experiences, relationships are enhanced, and benefits abound; however, that day or week or season of his life is just a little cloudy, not quite so sunny. Before going to bed that night or week, "well done" still fits the bill.

But along comes a day when the guy wakes up and its a 1 talent day. It doesn't feel anything like the 5 or 2 talent days. In fact, this day or month or year feels like an absolute bust. He doesn't even want to get out of bed or go to work or interact with his kids or call his parents on Saturday nights. The only thing he wants to do is hide. Because everybody knows that 5 or 2 is good, but 1 is, well, not good.

Have you ever had that experience? On those 1 talent days, we don't feel like we have anything to offer, nothing to bring to the table, and the best thing for everyone involved would be for us to hole up in the back room. I wonder if this parable might be encouraging us on those 1 talent days to not bury our stuff in the ground? To go ahead and step into life, even if we feel afraid and alone, and bring our 1 talent or our two mites (getting biblical on you here) and stay in the game? And if we'll at least do that much, those days may bring more "interest" than the 5 or 2 talent days because we're putting all our eggs in the basket of God's grace and mercy?

Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church talks about the solar calendar of the soul that most of us try and abide by and that most christians and churches hold as the norm: we ought to be operating at the 5 talent level. That's where the godliest folks exist. But she found that the soul operates on a lunar calendar, more waxing and waning that constant brightness. That there are 5 talent days and 2 talent days and 1 talent days and we need to be mindful and respectful of those rhythms in our lives, for what doth it profit a man or woman if they're always doubling their stuff but losing their soul in the process?

Not sure anyone got saved yesterday, but maybe somebody woke up. I'll take that.


  1. You're my favorite preacher! So thankful for your words yesterday. Even more thankful for you.


  2. Awww... Lovely words from that girlfriend of yours.

    Eager to hear the sermon online. I like messages where you suggest we wonder. Having a 1 talent day today in that I can't seem to stay awake.

  3. Paradoxically, I wonder if the days when we're making good interest are the days we're honest enough to recognize our true poverty, hence living more authentically in His grace. While the days when I'm hiding and producing nothing is when the world is clapping her hands at the beauty of my mask. I don't know, just thankful for The Grace.

  4. Hey John - interesting insights. I'm speaking on the same passage at a local church next Sunday!