A reflection for the 15th November 2020
The Second Sunday
before Advent 2020

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Offered for Sunday 15th November 2020


Stephen

Reflections Script

The Second Sunday before Advent 2020

November 15th 2020


For many years I did my own
servicing and maintenance
on my cars,
but that was many years ago!

On one occasion number 15
in the twenty three cars I've owned,
I was returning home
and the exhaust system
quite literally fell off
and no amount of ingenuity
could repair the mangled mess!

However, to the rescue
came a friend who was able
to get me a brand new
exhaust system at cost price.

So armed with the new exhaust,
a set of ramps,
made while I was still an apprentice,
over engineered and could
if required
hold up a Chieftain tank!
Finally an assortment
of spanners accrued over many years,
I set about removing
the remainder of the exhaust system.
Unfortunately two of the four bolts
holding the exhaust to the manifold
would not budge no matter how I tried!

After nearly three hours of toil,
sweat, tears and appropriate language,
I admitted defeat
and took it to a local garage!

Once on the ramp
and the mechanic standing
under the car
and with the help of
a long reach wrench
and socket aided by
an acetylene torch,
the two bolts gave up
their fight and the new exhaust
was fitted in minutes!

What a contrast to my
fruitless three hours!
Using the correct tools,
applying experience
and ability made the job
seem effortless
and a joy to observe!

The Bible's teaching
on the Lord's second coming
is not so much to tell us
about the end of the world
as to exhort us
to live our lives always in his hands,
ready to use the tools
and abilities he has given
to each and every one of us
to serve him!


Let us Pray


Our talents
and our practised skills,
Our gifts and our qualifications,
The praise for our achievements,
The credit for our success,
The best of our creativity,
The richness of our imagination,
The lessons we learn from our failures,
The whole of our lives
transformed by your Holy Spirit,
All shall be for you, Lord,
all shall be for you. Amen


Address

The prolific hymn-writer
Fanny Crosby wrote
over nine thousand hymns.

Born in New York in 1820,
she was blind virtually from birth,
but resolved to dedicate her life
to God and to use her gifts
to help the poor.

At fifteen she entered
the New York Institution
for the Blind,
where she spent
thirty-five years as
a pupil and teacher.

Her determination
not to be beaten by her disability
was awe inspiring,
as was her phenomenal memory!

Before Braille was invented
she learned a number of the books
in the Bible by heart.

For when Fanny began
missionary work
on the deprived streets
of New York's East Side,
she supported herself
through hymn-writing.

Her usual fee
was two dollars per hymn,
which she frequently gave
to a poor person.

Fanny lived
to the age of ninety-five,
and was writing hymns
right up to her death
in 1915.

Some forty years later
her best known hymn,
"To God Be the Glory",
emerged as part of the
official songbook for
Billy Graham's London
crusade of 1954.

So enthusiastic was
the reaction of the audience,
Billy Graham insisted
the hymn be repeated
every night of the crusade.

One way of looking at
the parable of the talents,
in Matthew Chapter 25, 14 to 30,
is for the man going away
on a long journey
to be Jesus ascending
to heaven and the
slaves represent Christians,
the talents and the gifts
of the Holy Spirit,
and the return of the master
is the return of Jesus.

But whichever way
we look at the parable
the teaching is clear.
The talents were given
to people
according to their abilities.
Talents are what make us
what we are
and set us apart
from other people.
But in God's eyes
there are no winners and losers,
no pecking order,
no hierarchy.

The reality is some people
will be able to run or swim
faster than others,
some will be better writers,
musicians or businesspeople,
but this matters not to God.

What matters
is we put our talents to good use.
It's significant to note
the slave who'd made two talents
was given equal praise
to the slave who had made five.

This parable is part of a series
at the end of Matthew's Gospel,
all with the theme of judgement.

Talents are given to us
on trust and we are each
held responsible for
full and faithful use of these gifts.

The reward for good service
may be a larger responsibility
in the work of God's kingdom,
but inaction and timidity
will bring judgement
and spiritual destruction.

Significantly,
the Gospel story devotes
more space to the verbal exchange
between the master
and the "wicked" slave;
and to his fate;
than anything else.

To whom much is given,
much will be expected."
The mother of billionaire
Bill Gates of Microsoft fame,'
said these words to her son
shortly after he was married
and just before she died.

Our gifts are unique to us
in both nature and quantity
and we are duty-bound
to use them in the knowledge
we will help and enrich others,
not just ourselves.?

We also have opportunities
in our lives?

Opportunities to influence others,
or to determine a course of events,
these can also be
regarded as talents.

Fanny Crosby saw her disability,
with which she dealt without blame
or self-pity,
as an opportunity
to concentrate on what
she could do best,
to the glory of God.

Also relevant is our availability.
Time after time in the Bible,
when there is a particular task
to be accomplished,
God does not look at the ability
or inability of a person,
but their availability.

Some people,
blessed with more devotion
to God than obvious talents,
make themselves available
with their willingness to serve.

Whatever our talents,
we must never let them
wither from lack of use.
We are to improve the quality
of our work for God,
and widen its scope
according to our
circumstances and abilities.

We are to do what we do,
but better and with greater focus
and attention.
Like the slaves in the story,
we are to be stewards and,
as St Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4, 2
"it is required of stewards
that they be found trustworthy".

If we are faithful
and trustworthy stewards for God,
it will never never be a chore.


To Summarise

The phenomenal
and prolific hymn-writer
Fanny Crosby used her talents
to the full.
Our talents
are not distributed equally,
but according to our ability
to use them.

The reward for faithfulness
is the same,
whether five or two talents are made.
That reward may be
the opportunity to do more.
Using opportunities
and being available for God
can also be regarded as talents.

A salutary thought
to finish
If we do nothing,
and hide our talents "in the ground",
we can expect judgement.


Our Blessing

As you go out into the world
may you be thankful
for the gifts bestowed
on you by God's grace.
May you resolve anew
to use these gifts
in the furtherance
of God's kingdom
here on earth.
And may the blessing of God almighty.....


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