Psalm 23:1
November 15th

Loving God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to be the light of the world.  Free us from all that darkens and ensnares us, and bring us to eternal light and joy;   The parable of the talents is one we have likely heard before. A man, headed out on a journey, entrusts his property to his servants, according to their gifts. One received five talents, one two and a third one talent. We should mention that a talent is the largest value of measurement in the Hebrew world. If the man gave gold talents (in the time of Jesus), this would have been worth $200,000 plus by today’s values.   We know what happens next, the first two servants invest their master’s talents and double their value. However the final slave did nothing and merely buried the talent in the ground.   There is a danger in thinking this parable is all about money. By and large, God or more likely Jesus in this parable, does not give us a whole lot of money in gold or other forms that we are expected to double in value. That said God does give all of us gifts (sometimes called talents) that we can use (time, skills, resources) to grow the life of the church. Of course during stewardship season a rector would say that.   Earlier in my time as a priest (now 30 plus years ago) it seemed to me that my role was to get people to do things. As I have matured and moving to this parish, helped me realise that discernment is the key to this process. So we don’t generally ask for volunteers as much as ask people to consider what God may be calling them to do. By prayer and reflection we seek to find the best people to undertake the work that requires a church to flourish. So when we ask people to consider taking on a responsibility we want them to pray and consider if they feel called to a role. Sometimes the answer is yes, but sometimes the answer is no. Yet to use the parable imagery again, we want to use the skills of individuals to grow and develop the life of the parish. For when we are given responsibility and we feel passionate about our role, we tend to achieve so much more than if we take on something we really don’t want to do. Of course there is always a danger that we might have talents but really don’t want to use them and so we bury them in a hole in the ground; but that is a matter between ourselves and God.   At another level the parable relates to the generosity that God shows to all of us. By entrusting so much of his wealth to his servants, over a long period of time, we may begin to get a sense of the reality of the kingdom of heaven. God gives us life, skills, families, and friends, church: and that is only part of what God gives us. There is no end to God’s generosity if only we will open our eyes and recognise what is out there.   Jesus clearly has himself in mind in this parable, for Jesus who is present with his disciples (including ourselves) for a time, who then leaves only to return later. As one commentator (Lange), suggests, Jesus invites us all into a fullness, an abundance of grace that is continually offered. In other words the Master (Jesus) who already possesses the gift of talents, is inviting us to share in his joy. For this commentator, perhaps we can ‘recognise the dynamics of joy that undergird the gift of faith’. The joy relates to self-giving and sharing, distributed to others. In short we are all invited to a meal where there is simple, but good food, with plenty for everyone.   One interesting insight into the parable which only became clear to me this time of reviewing it. The Master gave his servants talents: ‘to each according to his ability’. In other words those who receive five talents have most ability and are given most to work with. Of course in church life it isn’t all just fives, twos and ones, but at the same time there are very few fives.   That said I’m pretty sure we lost a five this week, in Doug Williams, though knowing Doug he’d be the last to say that of himself. Poor Doug has been ill for some years and has borne his challenges with great courage and has been so well supported by Carol through all of this. When I have been reflecting these last few days it is amazing to recall what a contribution Doug made to the life and witness of this church. Over the years I have attended countless meetings and met him on many occasions, at services, events and always he was a cheerful presence working hard either to fold table clothes after a tea or to speak up for Epiphany’s new building in diocesan meetings. He was just there and we will miss him as we know Carol and their family will miss him. Doug was a five, given by our Lord, no end of talents which he multiplied for the kingdom with all the energy and vigour he could muster. Doug was a pearl beyond price and all of our lives are the richer for having known him. We offer our love and prayers to Carol and all their family in their loss.   One of the ways we can best remember and celebrate Doug’s life is to be inspired by his vision and faith. Doug came to active faith through Carol and he has used the years God gave him to the fullest. Doug had an infectious smile and demeanour, he respected everyone and the love and light of Christ shined through his very being. If we can begin to emulate his passion for the gospel and for the church we will be on the right tracks. If we can use our gifts and multiply what God has given to all of us, this church will go from strength to strength.   In the picture of Doug taken when he received the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster, there is a little twinkle in his eyes, they reflect his joy at the honour he received, but also one wonder’s if he was saying: why me? Well Doug you richly deserved it for all you gave to Christ’s church and especially Epiphany and we loved you for it and we loved you for who you were.   For the light of Christ shone through Doug in his life and wisdom, and his light, and it continues to shine in our hearts in gratitude and respect, and always will. Let us then continue to offer God’s gifts in ourselves and one another to God’s praise and glory.   Amen