by Katy Lines
In the meantime…
How then, do we stay awake and pay attention in this time between the times?
Throughout Jesus’ sermon at Highland Park— Matthew 24-25— he gives examples of different people who are unaware of when the unexpected will occur: Pregnant and nursing mothers (24.19), feasters in Noah’s day (24.36-39), field workers (24.40), women at work (24.41), a homeowner (24.43), enslaved drivers (24.45-50), and now, the bridal attendants.
Jesus reminds his listeners over and over that, like all of these examples, we don’t know when the journey along the Jesus Way is complete and the home of God is enacted fully here. Remember, this sermon began with the disciples asking Jesus Where are you leading us? How will this end? (24.3)
The bridal attendants are all in the same situation— waiting. The night grows dark, they grow tired. Where they diverge from one another though, is their response when the one they’ve been waiting for finally arrives— some leap up to join the wedding party. Others though, lose sight of why they are there— is it to provide a light for the party, or is it to be in the presence of the one for whom they were waiting? Look! There he is! Come out to meet him! If the distracted bridal attendants had been solely focused on the bridegroom, the one for whom they waited, and endeavored to enter the party with their extinguished lamps— excited to be in the bridegroom’s presence— would they have been admitted? I don’t know, but I’d like to hope so.
Regardless, how do we practice living in these times of waiting, these seasons when the night grows dark and it feels like nothing will ever change? Jesus, in the beginning of this sermon, reminds his listeners— the one who endures to the end will be made whole (saved, delivered) (24.13). The ones who continue to express love for one another— contrary to betrayal, disillusionment, and hatred (24.10-12)— the ones who stay on Jesus’ way with him, they are the ones who will be in a position to be made whole. They are the ones who either have sufficient oil or who decide that oil is less important than being in the presence of the bridegroom.
In the meantime…
How then do we live in this world in this time between the times?
How does the third recipient of talanta differ from the first two? I really don’t think the amount of what he received matters; his response to the property given is what differs. The first two— the ones receiving five and two talanta respectively— took what was given them, poured it out into the community, and received back more than they began with. These two were willing to take risks, share, and receive. And what they discovered was abundance…more than enough.
This third recipient however, lived in fear, with a scarcity mindset. He dug a hole and hid what he’d been given. However we understand talanta, it is their view of the world that distinguishes this guy from the other two. He doesn’t squander what he received, or use it only on himself… he doesn’t do anything with it! He is motivated by fear and creates the conditions for his own downfall. What if he, too, had trusted his community? What if he, too, poured out what he had— took risks— and discovered that by giving he too, received abundantly?
As we prepare for our final text before Pentecost (Matt 25:31-46)— recognizing the presence of Jesus in others, and responding to them as we do Jesus— may we take Jesus’ words to heart:
This way of Jesus leads to God’s home being made real among us, all things whole and healed and beautiful… as God intended.
This way of Jesus is understood outside of our timing; it is not constrained by our expectations of time.
This way of Jesus endures by us sticking with one another (being faithful) and loving one another
This way of Jesus calls us to focus on what’s (who’s) really important: The one who has come to light and lead the way… stick with it!
This way of Jesus is an opportunity to trust abundantly in giving and receiving from one another the gifts God has given us.