Talent is a word that has morphed somewhat!! We have a regular television programme – called Britain’s Got Talent, where acts from the sublime to the ridiculous show us their party pieces… More correctly a talent is special often an athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude for something. A natural endowment to something – Mo Farrah to running first, Katharine Jenkins to singing. In both those cases, they have trained and honed their gifts, but they have definitely been based on a natural disposition to run long distances or sing beautifully in the first place!
The truth is that everybody has talents! It can be in every day things like ironing, baking, gardening and listening. Or in more complicated things like: –
Owning and operating bits of equipment to do specific jobs
Expertise in specific areas
Some people are great at hospitality or administration
In sport, creative arts, music,
With computers and
Even in prayer (we will come back to that)
Nobody in my opinion has no talents at all. I’m not very keen on how showbiz – celebrity stuff has overtaken the word talent either. We need to celebrate how God has made each one of us – different, unique and special.
Jesus told a parable in our readings today about talents too, and this gets to the point where we are clearer about how this word talent has changed its meaning. A talent in Jesus day was a sum of money. In fact, an awful lot of money! One commentary I read said that 5 talents was the equivalent of being a multi-millionaire in those days. Another said one talent was the equivalent of 15 years wages for a labourer. When Jesus told the parable he was talking about high finance and not so much gifts and abilities.
The story is about a wealthy man who invested his money by loaning it out to members of his staff. Three of them were lent huge amounts of capital and told to trade with it. Two of the three were remarkably successful. They returned the initial interest and the profit to the boss and in return they were moved on to better things, to administer a larger section of the boss’ business.
The third was intimidated by the task and chose not to rise to the challenge and buried the money, made no profit and returned it untouched. He received a pretty severe telling off and was punished for his timidity and lack of imagination. It ends badly with weeping and gnashing of teeth – which is never good in Jesus’ parables.
In the parable the sum of money could represent our knowledge of God. The Jews learnt from their scriptures about a God, who loves us, save us and cares how we treat each other. but they were given this knowledge, not just for their own benefit. They were expected to spread it to others too. To keep our knowledge of God to ourselves is selfish– timidity won’t get us very far. We need to spread around what we have learnt of God’s love to our families, friends and neighbours. That is one basic meaning of this parable
It is also tempting to apply it to our gifts and abilities too and the word talent in the wider sense we use today. What we are good at or clever at becomes what we are talented at. We mustn’t bury the talents we all have, and we must put them to work serving God as God intended. Everybody can do something perhaps not brilliantly well, but sufficiently well to be appreciated.
I challenge us all today to review how we are using talents our gifts and abilities a fresh. Particularly how we could use them to show our love for God and to put them to work to serve his kingdom. Talents are not to be left at the bottom of the wardrobe of our lives like that unwanted Christmas present from our Great Aunt. We need to use them to help us all show how God loves the world and how much we love God especially in our pandemic times.
Another thing we can all work on is our practice of prayer. We all have different gifts in prayer, and being prayerful is a deep seated natural instinct. The Archbishops have asked us to pray every day (at 6pm if we can). I wrote about this in last week’s newsletter and circulated the resources and it will be mailed out this week to those who need it. I would like to take this opportunity for you to read what they said… From 4th November so a little time has elapsed but still plenty of days ahead to pray in!!
To finish I found a very short story, which illustrates the point of the parable of the talents rather well. Somewhat surprisingly it is about 2 frogs! We may not think that frogs have a lot of talents. But if they live up to their “frogginess” which includes their talent to swim, it can make a huge difference to the outcome as you will see. It begins….
Two frogs fell into a tub of cream. The one looked at the high sides of the tub which were too difficult to crawl over and said, “It is hopeless.” So he resigned himself to death, relaxed, and sank to the bottom.
The other one determined to keep swimming as long as he could. “Something might happen,” he said. And it did. He kept kicking and churning, and finally he found himself on a solid platform of butter and jumped to safety. Amen