Worship Service – November 8, 2020

Sunday November 8,2020
Dear Church Family and Friends,
Our scriptures this week are, Matthew 25:1-13 and Matthew 25:14-30.
On November 11 we celebrate Veterans Day. Like many of you I also served in service to our country and considered to be a veteran. As all those who chose to serve in service to our country, we knew there would be risks and remarkably familiar with the term often heard as I served in the military, ”hurry up and wait”.
Also, being that these past weeks we have been encouraged to hurry up and cast our ballots for president by mail or take a risk during this pandemic to wait in line at our place of voting and then wait again for the results.
I thought it appropriate to look at these parables in Matthew. So, our message this week I’ve titled.
Hurry Up and Wait.
Matthew 25:1-13
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
(1) “At that time, the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. (2) Five of them were foolish and five were wise. (3)The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. (4) The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. (5) The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
(6) “At midnight, the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
(7) “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. (8) The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
(9)” ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
(10) “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
(11) “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’
(12) “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
(13) “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
The parable of “The Ten Virgins” has to be one of the least liked in the whole Bible. It speaks stern words to those who are not ready for the moment of truth — and it leaves uncomfortably vague just what “being ready” might entail.
So, it is important to read the next parable, “The Parable of the talents”.
Matthew 25:14-30.
(14) “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. (15) To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. (16) The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. (17) So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. (18) But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
(19) “After a long time, the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. (20) The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’
(21) “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(22) “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’
(23) “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(24)”Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. (25) So, I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
(26)”His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So, you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? (27) Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned, I would have received it back with interest.
(28) ” ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. (29) For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. (30) And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
When I think of the term, ”hurry up and wait” it always brings to mind, of what my wife would tell our children every morning before the school bus would arrive. Her definition of “hurry up”, was to get prepared for the day at school. And her definition of ”wait”, was to keep watch for the bus’s arrival. It seemed like every morning, one of my children would run out to meet the bus, then just before getting on, would turn around and return to the house for something he forgot. He would then be reminded that the bus has a schedule to keep.
To understand what Matthew interprets Jesus to mean in these parables, we first have to know who he was speaking to and the question they asked.
At the beginning of chapter 24 we find Jesus leaving the temple, with his disciples, after speaking to the crowd, the teachers of the law and the Pharisees in the temple, (Matthew 23:1,2). So then in Matthew 24:1-8 we read, (1) Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. (2) “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.”
(3) As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
(4) Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. (5) For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, ‘ and will deceive many. (6) You will hear of wars and rumors of wars but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. (7) Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. (8) All these are the beginning of birth pains.
Like, my wife, would tell my children, Jesus was telling his disciples to “hurry up and wait”. Get prepared and watch for his return.
If we like the disciples want to know what to look for before the final judgment, we have to read all of chapters 24 and 25, and in particular the final third of this chapter, that famous scene of the sheep and the goats.
(Matthew 25:31-34,41)
(31) When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. (32) All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (33) He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
(34) “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.—-
(41)”Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
In the first parable we read ,the ten virgins or as we would call them ,“bridesmaids” are all onboard with a great plan. They will wait for the announcement of the approaching arrival of the bridegroom and his entourage. Then they will process out to greet them and escort the eagerly awaited couple back into the bridegroom’s home. Once safely delivered into his own household, the bridegroom would declare that the magnificent wedding celebration could get under way.
It was a great plan. But as with most weddings, something went wrong. It was not uncommon for the bridal exchanges in these first century near eastern cultures to hit a snag during the final fiscal negotiations. Like all good labor-management contract disputes, some deal-breakers, some demands, were held back until the last possible minute. Midnight marathon sessions between families weren’t unknown, even as the wedding party waited around anxiously in all their finery.
I’m certain many of us have attended weddings in all our finery. And had to wait for the wedding ceremony to begin ,then wait again for the couple to emerge from the church and then once again, wait on them, to arrive at the reception. All of us, waiting in anticipation and in a hurry, twiddling our thumbs, making small talk not knowing what to do while we wait.
Back to the parable. So, despite all the careful planning the ten bridesmaids found themselves falling asleep, waiting for the delayed bridal troop to make their appearance. All ten bridesmaids were aware of the plan. All ten had a clear vision of the role they were to play in welcoming the bridegroom.
But only five of the bridesmaids were also prepared for an unforeseen, but not unheard of, change of plan. The five wise bridesmaids prepared by bringing along a reservoir of extra oil for their lamps. They were ready to go, but they were also prepared to wait if necessary.
The five foolish bridesmaids were committed to the big plan, but until they awoke after midnight to sputtering lamps and the call–”Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him”–they didn’t realize what a disastrous plan that was. While the prepared bridesmaids took their freshly trimmed and filled lamps out to greet the bridegroom, those who had only planned to participate were left running around in the dark, looking for a new plan. They were caught sleeping, unprepared, for Christ’s return.
It would be like if you were caught sleeping at your desk at work. Bored from waiting and instead of preparing for that days meeting you fall asleep. You’re committed to being there, but ran around at the last minute, unprepared and needing to rely on someone else’s preparation. Looking for an excuse.
In my preparations I found a list of the 10 best things to say if caught sleeping at your desk:
10. They told me at the blood bank this might happen.
9. This is just a 15-minute powernap like they raved about in that time management course you sent me to.
8. Whew! Guess I left the top off the White-Out. You probably got here just in time!
7. I wasn’t sleeping! I was meditating on the mission statement and envisioning a new paradigm.
6. I was testing my keyboard for drool resistance.
5. I was doing a highly specific Yoga exercise to relieve work-related stress.
4. Darn! Why did you interrupt me? I had almost figured out a solution to our biggest problem.
3. The coffee machine is broken . . .
2. Someone must’ve put decaf in the wrong pot .. .
And the #1 best thing to say if you get caught sleeping at your desk . . .” . . . in His name. Amen.
So, what should we be doing while we wait for his return? How do we hurry up while we wait? In the parable of the talents, Jesus tells them what they should be doing while they wait. Today we might interpret talents as the gifts we received from God. Our physical and mental attributes and also our monetary means.
So, just what is this talent that Jesus is talking about? A single talent alone was a huge sum of money, equal to 6,000 denarii or 20 years’ worth of wages. According to the U.S. Census, the median income in America is $40,668. That would mean that in today’s market 1 talent would equal $813,360.00. So, the one talent man received over than ¾ of a million dollars. That means the other two received $1.6 million and $4 million to invest for their master. “Each according to their ability.”
So, we’re not talking about paltry sums here. This was and still is a significant amount of money. Which means that the master had a significant amount of trust in the abilities of these three men. You just don’t hand over a million dollars to a stranger who hasn’t been tried and trusted.
So, the scenario is that two, invest and double their money. And one simply buries it in the backyard. The first two are praised and rewarded but the one talent guy who buried the money is chastised. So, what’s the deal. The master didn’t lose any money.
In my studies this week I found out something very interesting. In our Lord’s day, burying a treasure wasn’t considered to be such a bad thing. It might not have been an admirable thing to do, but lot’s of people did it. But according to one source, the one talent servant’s actions were devious and conniving. He figured if his master was going on a long journey, there was a chance he might never come back. If the servant put the money in the bank, he would have to register it in the master’s name. And when his master didn’t come back, the heirs could claim it. However, if he buried it in the backyard, there wouldn’t be any record of the money. And if the master didn’t come back, the servant would have it for himself. If the master came back, the servant couldn’t be accused of dishonesty because he could produce the talent. Unfortunately, he was busted and wound up with less than nothing.
So, what does this parable teach us?
First it teaches us that we have to lose it to gain it.
So, what do I mean?
We know Jesus Saves. Like the 10 bridesmaids we know what our responsibilities are. All ten bridesmaids were aware of the plan. All ten had a clear vision of the role they were to play in welcoming the bridegroom. Just as we ,who believe know what it means when we hear the term ,”Jesus Saves”. And we don’t want to be caught sleeping or running around when he returns.
That play on words,” Jesus Saves “ doesn’t really have anything to do with money. But it has everything to do with our relationship with God, through Christ. While we wait for his return.
In Matthew 16:25 Jesus said, “Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” We know that the only way we can gain our life, gain freedom from sin, freedom from guilt, and receive the daily strength we need to live for God is by surrendering our lives to God through Christ. We have to lose it to gain it.
When I joined the Navy, I was sent to basic training in San Diego California. One of the first things that I was told after my arrival, just moments after I got off the bus in Boot Camp, was that I was considered, excuse my language, “Whale Shit”. And then explained to that, ”Whale Shit” was at the bottom of the ocean. Meaning that I no longer belong to myself but to the Navy. So, in the process of learning to become a sailor we did a lot of mental and physical training. Then once assigned to a duty station we were required to continue training so that we would be ready for whatever or whenever we were called on. Although at times it seemed like we did nothing but hurry up and wait.
When we accept Christ, we surrender all to Christ. We can’t withhold anything. That includes every aspect of our lives, including our wallets. And like the servants in this parable, we are entrusted with the talents God has given us, “each according to their ability.” And that word talent is used in both the modern understanding of our gifts and abilities and their value, and the ancient understanding of a large sum of money. God gives us both. We’re simply the stewards or managers of what God has given us.
The second lesson we learn is we have to, Use It or Lose It.
First, we have to surrender our lives to Christ in order to receive the abundant life and life eternal. We have to lose it to gain it. But we also have to “use it or lose it”.
That’s what happened in the parable. The first two, the five and the two talent servants invested the money entrusted to them and they were rewarded. The one talent man had it taken away.
Were Called to Invest the talents we’ve been given. We have to use it or lose it. If we want to be like the bridesmaids who entered the banquet, or like my children getting on the bus, or our veterans who committed their lives, their talents to keeping us free, We Must,” Hurry up and Wait”.
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20201108
Listen To Audio: Sermon 11082020


Pastor Joe is available at the church on Thursdays from 2 to 4. If you wish to speak with him, his contact numbers are 570-465-7303 or his cell 570-267-4570.

Sunday School begins at 8:30. All are welcome.

The Loose change (coins & bills) offering today goes to General Fund.

BILL’s Kids for Christmas Mission: Rev. Bill Townsend was the Director of Spiritual Life at the Children’s Home in Binghamton. Our congregation has been donating money for many years to help to make Christmas more merry for the residents; it will BE NOW UNTIL Sunday, November 29th

PW will meet Thursday, November 12 at 11:00. We will be working on cards for Thanksgiving to give to Meadowview Residents. Please bring bag lunch.

Congregational Meeting will be Sunday, November 15 at 10:30am.

Men’s Action Group meets on Wednesday, November 18 at 8:00.

PLEASE NOTE: We ask that you wear a mask as you ENTER the church and as you EXIT. To EXIT, please use the Front, Side, EXIT DOOR. Thank you. Members of Session.


Our theme for the Christmas Season will be “Love Came Down at Christmas.” Worship Committee will meet today following the service at 10:30.

Christmas Greeting – If anyone would like to put a Christmas Greeting in the December Messenger, please give a handwritten note or send E-Mail at whisperpines@frontiernet.net to Carolyn White by Tuesday December 1st. Messenger Dead Line Thank You!

Comments are closed.