Father Mark, Sermons

Servanthood is joy–most of the time.

Proper 28A Pentecost 24 11/15/20      

Jesus’ message seeps into places we least expect.

I remember my sophomore year in summer football practice.  We were the bait for the varsity players to practice on.   One of my most dreaded drills was when the linebackers would practice their reaction time and tackling—on us.  

There were four tires laid down in a line about a yard apart.  The two senior linebackers, both larger and stronger than myself, were on one side and I was on the other—alone—no one in front of me blocking.  Coach Morrill would give me the ball and whisper in my ear in which gap between the tires to run.  

After a couple of runs where I was obliterated and then peeled off the ground, I had the wind knocked out of me.   When it was my turn to run the ball again, I hesitated and didn’t run toward them as fast.  After they flattened me again, the coach picked me up, stuck his face into my face guard, his eyes glaring red, the chewing tobacco oozing out of his mouth and he began to scream at me for not giving my best effort when I ran into them.   I made an excuse as I gasped for breath and before I could finish, he laid into me again telling me what a baby I was.   That hurt as much as the two linebackers grinding me into the ground. 

He yelled that the linebackers needed a real situation in practice to prepare them for the game.   At that moment, I crawled out of my cave of self-preservation and grew up a lot. The coach had revealed my victim consciousness and cowardice.  

I realized that I had value and that it was important for me to give everything I had in me to help the varsity prepare—even when it hurt.   

Translating this to the parable of the talents, I learned that even though God loved me, there was more to it than this.  We have the choice of a lifetime to open our hearts to merge with God’s presence.    The spiritual life is forged through faith, endurance and challenges, forged by hammer and heat.  

Servanthood is a way of life to which we are not accustomed. 

Used to our autonomy, we do not easily fit in a subordinate role, often equating being subordinate with a lack of self-worth or value. 

Servants back in that Jesus’ day time were actually guardians of the master’s estate and family.  The servant who did not invest himself in the work his master gave him to do made excuses, falsely blaming the master for exploiting him when it was his responsibility as a servant to invest his talents in some way, even if it were only to go invest them for a little interest.  

The Master didn’t buy into the servant’s blame game and victim consciousness that the slothful servant was playing.

The story never ponders the question of why the servant was slothful.  Perhaps he was fearful?  Ever been afraid to invest yourself in something?  Fear keeps us from receiving the love of the master and loving him in return.

In the Middle East, if the servants do not do their allotted tasks, they are not mollycoddled, they are released.  This is similar to if you have a fruit tree in your yard that doesn’t produce, sooner or later do you decide to cut it down.  

Jesus speaks of preparation and investing ourselves in him.  We walk with Jesus over the threshold as one.  

Being a servant of God is like being lost in his presence.  We’re not really lost—but so absorbed in the presence and what the Spirit is doing through us that we often lose track of what we are doing because we enter the timelessness of his presence. 

The master invites the servants to “enter the joy of your master.”  There is joy in co-creating with God.

Being in the presence of God, immersed in his Divine Rhythm,  is a foretaste of eternal life where we co-create with God on earth, sharing Divine Joy.  We often lose track of time because in those moments we are living in eternity—the place of true joy.

Get lost in God to be found—and to find yourself in joy.