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Risk Takers

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"The Risk Takers"

Matthew 25:14-30

When I was in high school ... full of energy and enthusiasm... looking for kicks ... I actually thought I might like to go sky diving. I must have been out of my mind... Then one summer when I was about a third year college student I dated a guy who offered to take me. But I didn’t’ have the nerve.  So I didn't do it. And as a result, I've never been sky diving, or hang-gliding, or cliff-hanging, or extreme rock climbing. I've never been bungee jumping ... although it’s possible one of my girls might have. But I have been para-sailing and white water rafting – on a very elementary level, that is. And I’ve ridden on the back of motorcycles ... and on plenty of scary roller coasters.   For years now, I’ve hoped to go snow skiing. But I haven’t yet gotten up the nerve to try it.  Some of my friends tell me there's nothing more exciting than standing on top of a mountain slope, looking down at the steep descent that goes on forever ... then shoving off and flying down the slope on a pair of skis. But now with my back  I’ll probably  never get a chance to experience that.  

We all take risks. We enjoy taking risks. All through my life, until just recently, the scarier the roller coaster, the better! Risk taking brings a "rush." But I want you to think about something for a minute. -- That physical rush, which comes in such ways, is nothing compared to the spiritual rush that comes when you’re willing to take a risk for God.

Risk taking is a part of life. Some of you do may it daily through the stock market .... You also take a risk when you start a business ... or get married ... or choose to have children. We take a risk every time we get into a car. Life is risky ... So is genuine faith in God. And Jesus talks about that in the Gospels --  about how we move forward and grow spiritually to the degree that we’re willing to risk.

And surely we can all think of things in our own lives that would involve taking a risk for Christ... like doing something that might further God’s realm fresh for the 1st  time... or changing something about ourselves that needs changing for the sake of those around us.   But it’s also true in the life of the church that being willing to take risks is a necessary part of spiritual health.  For instance, think about the present challenge before our church right now.  It clearly calls for a decision that is going to involve risk –whichever direction we go. And every year the stewardship team challenges us to take a risk with our giving... It’s been said many times over that we grow in Faith in direct proportion to our willingness to risk.

So this morning I want to think about Christian risk taking. Jesus Christ calls us to take risks for the church and for His mission in this world. And, one of the greatest examples of this is Jesus’ Parable of the Talents, which we just read.

In it Jesus tells about a master who entrusted his servants with certain talents. (which, of course, parallel the talents, abilities, and resources each of us has been given by God.) In the parable, one person was given 5 talents, another 2, and another 1 talent. The master expected them to use their talents ... invest them ... until he returned.

As we heard, the one with 5 talents invested them well, earned 5 talents more ... and was blessed by the master with even more talents. The one given 2 talents also invested his, earned 2 talents more ... and was blessed by the master with even more talents. But the one given only 1 talent ... hid his talent for safe keeping ... didn't invest it or increase it at all. Then, when the master returned, he was upset with this servant -- said he was lazy and good for nothing, and took his 1 talent away from him. The master was upset because the man wasn’t willing to take a risk. He would have been more pleased if the man had risked and lost it all than he was with the fact that he wasn't willing to take a risk.

Now -- There are three risks the Lord wants us to take if we are to move forward and grow in faith. Our refusal to take these risks not only shows a lack of | 2 |

trust in God, but it also warps our perspective on God. When confronted with his refusal to risk, the one-talent servant revealed his twisted perspective on his lord. He said, "I knew you to be a hard master, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed." (Matthew 25:24) But nothing was further from the truth. His lord was anything but a hard master. In fact, he joyfully rewarded those servants who were willing to take risks for his sake.

So, the 1st risk our Lord wants us to take if we are to move forward and grow in faith is that of participating rather than just observing. The truth is, there are always those who sit on the sidelines of life rather than risk getting involved.  It’s been said there are three kinds of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who say, "What happened?" Which are you? And, what does the Lord think of it? Those who just observe rather than get involved will find themselves with a warped perspective, a skewered view of what's going on.

·     For example, over the past year we've been holding a series of information meetings regarding our "Open and Affirming” endeavor here in the church.   We’ve sent out information and letters explaining it all and inviting people to come and dialogue, learn, better understand.   We have a table in the back with books to read and CDs to watch, all simply to educate us all re: human sexual preference.   And still some say they don’t know what it’s all about...  

·     We’re holding cluster meetings, complete with lay leaders, to which everyone was invited to talk together about the challenge set before us with Baldwin Wallace and our building. Those who have attended one already feel they have a better understanding of what God is trying to do through this church and how they feel about our future options. Those who don’t  attend ... who don’t get involved ... will have no idea, or a vague idea at best what options  we actually have as well as what the pros and cons of each of those options might be as they impact the future of this congregation. You can tell the difference from the things people say  --  and the questions they ask  -- whether they are participating or observing.

The 2nd risk God wants us to take -- if we are to move forward and grow in faith -- is the risk of doing something rather than doing nothing. In Jesus’ parable the master would have been much more pleased if they had risked and failed than if they weren't willing to try anything at all. Every church that achieves great things for God ... including this one ... experiences many failures for every success they achieve. But the key is the willingness to try. Now I know all of us have our "hesitancies" about change. You know, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." And we all feel that way to some degree... But, if we don’t fix it now, it might not work later. Or, the famous "Seven Last Words" of the church -"We never did it that way before." We may need to risk, so that change might bring about something even better.

Jesus never said that the kingdom of God was like a man reclining in his easy chair. No, Jesus compared the kingdom to one willing to tasks risks ... and willing to invest time, talent and resources in what it takes to move forward and grow for God. I love the name of a 13th century church which is called "Our Lady of Risk." It’s named for Mary ... who was willing to take a BIG  risk and accept God's call to become the mother of Jesus. For the sake of our church and its future, just as the members of that ancient church, we must be willing to do something ... to take a risk ... rather than do nothing. And we dare not be spectators. We must be participants.

Then there's the 3rd risk God wants us to take if we are to move forward and grow in faith -- and that’s the risk of accepting responsibility rather than blaming. It's quite obvious that we live in a "blame somebody else" rather than "accept responsibility" world today. People look at all the problems in society today - deteriorating family life, declining education, decaying urban centers, growing crime, increasing environmental problems, corrupt politicians - and instead of accepting their own responsibility for them, they want to blame somebody else – blame the government, blame big business, blame the economy, blame heredity, blame your parents, blame the teachers, blame the leaders, ... even blame God.

The truth is:  The problems in our world today are nothing more than the sum total of what's wrong with each of us. So we need to accept responsibility ... and do something about it ... rather than just sit back and blame everybody else.

I truly believe that the church is our greatest hope for dealing with the problems in our society today – otherwise I would definitely NOT be in the ministry. And I believe that in the years ahead we're going to see the church become more and more important. Many people believe that the church can do a better job in solving local problems than government agencies have done or can afford to do. But in order for the church to really have an impact in this society, you and I -- every single one of us who see ourselves as the church -- MUST accept responsibility & get involved.   To keep the church strong, we all have to get involved.

Jesus calls us to take risks for His church and for His mission  --  the risk of participating rather than just observing, the risk of doing something rather than doing nothing, the risk of accepting responsibility rather than blaming. But to do this means that we must be willing to trust God. We must trust God enough that we’re willing to attempt something that we know will fail ... unless God makes it happen. When's the last time you did that? Have you ever really done that?

Just about everything we are doing right now in the life of this church, I think, falls into that category.  None of the things we are working on, considering, dialoguing about, -- the visioning we’re attempting will not succeed unless God is behind it -- unless God makes it happen -- unless God's spirit in us makes it happen. The question is whether or not we are willing to trust God enough to take a few risks get involved ... and make commitments ... so GREAT things can happen here?  Only you can answer that question for yourself..

One last thing – it’s the final word learned from today’s lesson:  One day we will are all going to be accountable for what we do ... or fail to do. Maybe you don’t believe that.   But acc. to Jesus’ parable of the Talents, one day the Master will return , and he will be upset with those  --  like the one talent servant who were afraid to take any risks..  And he’ll be pleased with those who do ... saying to the risk takers: “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.” 

Will any of s, --  will we as a church --  be so fortunate to receive that blessing?

PRAYER: Lord, help us to realize how big You are ... and how much bigger we can become for You when we put our trust in You. Help us to be willing to take risks for You ... the risk of getting involved rather than just observing ... the risk of doing something rather than doing nothing ... the risk of accepting responsibility rather than just placing blame some place else ... that we might move forward into Your future ... and grow in faith. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. 


The gospel we will read later is the  Parable of the Talents.   It is possible to read that gospel as a confirmation of a harsh and unforgiving God. After all, who wouldn’t feel pity for the slave who was afraid to risk using his one talent? It is beneficial for the church to consider whether we ever encourage the belief in the harsh God that was in the mind of that slave. However, the gospel for us in this parable is still there. We serve a God who gives us all gifts and talents. We are encouraged to trust this God as we take risks in expanding and expressing those talents. It would be interesting to reflect on another person who could be added to the story   --  one who risked using the talents given and lost them? Or maybe that is not possible?

Let us bring our gifts to God, knowing that what seems to be giving away, adds to our lives and to those of others.



ALL: Generous God, we have been entrusted with proclaiming the good News of the greatest gift of all - Jesus Christ.  We offer these gifts and the service of our lives in response to your generosity and grace.   We pray that our lives may reveal  these same qualities in abundance.  In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.














INTRO to the NT Reading:

Today’s gospel lesson is a familiar one.  In it, Jesus describes the Reign of God in a parable about a rich man who gave money to three servants and then left town. When he returned, he asked for an ac­counting. Two of them doubled the money, but one failed to invest it. This parable is normally used on stewardship Sunday.   But it is clearly not just a parable about using our gifts wisely.  It is a story about our willingness of risk for the sake of the gospel.  Which servant are we?   Listen now, anew,  to the Parable of the Talents.


Matthew 25:14-30

25:14 "For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them;

25:15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

25:16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents.

25:17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents.

25:18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

25:19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

25:20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.'

25:21 His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'

25:22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.'

25:23 His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'

25:24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed;

25:25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.'

25:26 But his master replied, 'You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter?

25:27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.

25:28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.

25:29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.

25:30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

 CHILDREN'S TIME:  "Gift Certificates"

Object:   Investment Certificate

Theme:    Doing Good For God

Source:   Self and E. Weishiet's "The Gospel For Kids Series A"

How many of you have ever received a gift certificate?....What do

you do with them....  Gift certificates are a lot of fun - you

can get anything you want at the store for the amount on the


Adults often get something called investment certificates.  They

are like gift certificates in that they are valuable - but the

point of them is that when you use them as instructed - they

become more valuable.  If you get a certificate for a $1000 -

after a while - it becomes $1100 or even $2000.  It all depends

on where you put it and what the people there do with it.

Today I want to give you all an investment certificate that comes

from God.

Hand out certificates.

If you use it as instructed - it becomes even more valuable - and

God's kingdom will grow and there will be more peace on earth.

Each certificate is ONE GOOD DEED.  God gives us the ability to

do good things.  If we actually do good things - things like

those suggested on the certificate - then the world becomes a

better place to live and God and we are all made happy.

   Let us Pray - Dear Lord God - help us to use your gifts

   wisely - to invest what you have given us - so that your

   world is better.-- Help us to smile and laugh - to feed

   the hungry -- and to visit the sick -- to share and to

   care - both now and forever -- We ask it in Jesus' name --



            This is based on the gospel and you will need two large and two


            garbage bags filled with newspaper and tied at top, one shopping

            size bag also filled with newspaper and tied at top.  Place one

            large, one smaller and the smallest bags in sanctuary space where

            they can be easily seen.  The

            other bags are out of sight - vestry? Three young people sitting in

            sanctuary and someone to tell the following.

            Once upon a time a very rich and very important man went on holiday


             before he went, he called  three of his best workers in and

            proceeded to give

            them some of his money to look after while he was away.   (He


            didn't trust the banks!) To  his very best worker he gave a huge

            sack full of

            money  (Young person comes forward and takes largest bag and remains


            To his next best worker he gave another sack full of money

            (next young person comes and takes smaller bag and remains there). 

            And to the third best worker he gave another bag full of money

            (third young person  takes smallest bag and remains there). 

            "Take good care of my property while I'm away", the man said and he


            off on his holiday. 

            The young people give each other 'high fives' - congratulating each

            other, and move off to where the other bags are.

            The worker who received the most money invested it wisely and

            doubled the amount he originally had (first  young person returns

            dragging two large

            garbage bags)  The second did likewise (second returns with two

            bags) but

            the third took his bag of money home and hid it in a drawer.  When


            employer came home from holidays  he called the three workers in to

            find out

            how well they had looked after his money for him.  He congratulated

            the first

            and immediately promoted him which gave him a bigger salary and more

            authority.  The same happened with the second worker, but when the


            worker came  with the same little bag (third person comes forward


            smallest bag) - he told his employer that he had been too frightened

            to do

            anything with it in case he had lost the lot.  His employer was

            angry and

            disappointed with him over his lack of initiative and took the bag

            and gave it

            to the first worker.  And he said " To all those who have, more will

            be given,

            and they will have plenty."  (Young people return to seats)

            Jesus told this story which has different meanings for people who

            hear it.  We

            can hear it as a story about the different gifts we believe God has

            given each

            one of us - especially the gift of loving one another as Jesus loved

            us.  When

            we use our gifts in ways which are pleasing to God -they multiply-

            just like

            the money in the story.   For example- suppose we have the gift of


            people happy - when we share that gift with others - however and


            we do it - our happiness multiplies as others become happy too. 

            When we

            use the gift of love as Jesus did, looking for ways in which we can

            show our

            love for others - those who receive that love become more loving and

            again -

            the love multiplies. (If you have some specific local examples - use

            them here).

            But if we never look for ways in which we can share our gifts, when

            we hide

            them inside ourselves - nothing happens - no one benefits - no one

            is helped -

            we ourselves would even lose the good that our gifts would do to us

            personally- because what we don't use, we lose.

            Just think - if we used our gifts of being gentle and kind and

            loving and

            peaceful - and these gifts multiplied - wouldn't the world be a

            better place?

            So let's always remember that that is what Jesus wants us to do.



           In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth into the world, to fulfill our calling as the people of God, the body of Christ.   So go into this week, enfolded in the rich mercy of God, nourished by the abundant love of Jesus Christ, and energized to take risks for  Christ’s sake in your daily life.


God of all the universe,

We still cannot fathom the depth of your goodness,

the height of your compassion,

the wideness of your mercy,

but we cannot doubt any of them,

for all are abundantly clear everywhere we look.

We gather this day to thank you, Lord,

to give you once again back the life you have given us,

to be reminded, for we so easily forget,

who we are and whose we are.

Some of us gather, Lord, burdened by the past,

living with regrets and missed opportunities,

outright deeds and words which now shame us,

and also heavy laden by things there in the past

over which we had no control whatsoever.


Yes, Lord, have mercy. Free us from the past

that robs our present, that distracts us so from

being and doing the tasks you have called us to

in the present.


And some of us, Lord, are fearful of the present.

Problems and difficult tasks lay heavily upon us

and we wonder how much longer we will be able to stand.

Hurting relationships, financial woes, troublesome

things at work, illness of mind, body, and soul,

and never ending concerns for those we love who

have drifted away from us or who are themselves

carrying great burdens of which we and they seem

helpless to bear any longer.


Yes, Lord, have mercy upon us. Do not free us from all care, but give us your peace that passeth understanding, and strength to endure whatever the day brings. Best of all give us the assurance of your own presence, for in you we have all we need.


Lord, so many of us fear the future. Obstacles loom before

us that we see no way around, under, or over.

So many voices calling out to us about the future,

voices that would make us fearful and uncertain,

that would cause us to forget to trust you and

that we are always in your hands.

Many of us, Lord, are facing decisions and tasks,

we know they are coming and yet we do not feel ready.

We do not know how to prepare.

We are confused. We are uncertain what to do

and when to do it.


Yes, Lord, have mercy. Free us from fear of tomorrow

and whatever it may bring. Give us a victorious faith

that sees beyond the future to you, to your purpose

and glory. Make us sober and alert to your presence

and workings among us. Let us dig up any talents we

have buried and put them to good use for you.

Cloth us as children of light in love, faith, and hope.

Let us journey courageously out of the past,

faithfully perform each duty that lies at hand,

and live into the future with the blessed assurance

that we are yours and will always be,

sharing your love with others each step of the way.



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