The New Room is sharing a Friday reflection each week. We hope that these short reflections will act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.
This week’s Friday Reflection is from Naomi Sharp, a local preacher and lay worker in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire circuit.
Reading: Matthew 25.14-30
You have something really precious and you don’t want it to get lost, damaged or stolen, so you bury it in the ground (in a carefully noted location). In this hot, dry country, it will be safe from moths, sun-damage and thieves. A risk-free solution!
The focus in this story from Matthew’s gospel is on the third slave, and this is the solution the slave comes up with. It made sense to them, but it did not please their master. There was no risk, but there was also no usefulness, no productivity. Protection meant missed opportunities.
When Jesus talked about a master and a slave, his first listeners would almost certainly have drawn a parallel with God and Israel. What might it be that Israel had “buried in the ground”? It must have been very valuable – a “talent” was a sum of money, approximately what a labourer might earn in 15 years.
The greatest “talent” that Israel had received was being chosen to be in relationship with God. God’s purpose was for Israel to be a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 42), to be the means by which other nations might also know him. But Israel, in particular the religious authorities, was doing its best to preserve this “talent”, to hide from the risk of it getting spoiled.
These days we have got used to the language of “risk”. Many of us have completed risk assessments on paper, and all of us have done them in our heads when we have made decisions about what to do or not do in our pandemic world.
I wonder if we think about the Good News, the greatest “talent” we have, in the same way? Are we in danger of behaving like the religious leaders in Jesus’ time, of protecting our faith so effectively that it becomes useless, like burying it in the ground? Or are we like the first two slaves who take their “talents” and put them to work, accepting the risk that investing brings?
Jesus, you challenge us to take risks for your sake.
Keep us from the temptation to merely preserve our faith, so that it becomes stifled.
Teach us how to invest wisely so that the Good News can multiply. Amen