Sermon Reflections for East Africa (Sunday, November 13th)

Every Tuesday until Advent, LWR will be posting brief theological reflections on the upcoming Sunday’s Lectionary readings. This resource is intended to help pastors find touch points between Sunday preaching and the current crisis in East Africa. For more resources to engage your congregation with this famine go to where you can find a PDF of all of these sermon reflections between now and Advent.

November 13th, 2011

(Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18, Psalm 90:1-8, (9-11), 12, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Matthew 25:14-30)

Today’s Gospel lesson is one of the tougher readings for many preachers to deal with, since it seems in many ways to contradict so many other of Jesus’ teachings about money. The master so highly praises the shrewd investment of the five talents and condemns the one who was given only one talent and buries it. This story seems to have the exact opposite meaning of Matthew 20’s “the last will be first and the first will be last.”

It would be easy to look at the drought in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya & Djibouti’s punishment for being wicked and lazy, while we here in the West enjoy the luxuries gained from being good and trustworthy slaves. We shouldn’t let this passage become justification for blaming the poor in our society for their own fate. There are too many other passages throughout scripture that talk about money that stand against that interpretation. This passage isn’t really about material wealth at all.

The key to this passage is that the talents that were entrusted to the slaves are the master’s talents. They are gifts that do not belong to the slaves. What are the things that God has entrusted to us? The good news of the Gospel, the bread & wine of communion, forgiveness of sins. God has also given us friends, family and community.

God certainly has given us many gifts, but how do we receive them? With fear and trembling, like the slave who was given one talent? Or do we receive God’s gifts with gratitude, trying to multiply and trade them as much as possible? How can we multiply God’s gifts throughout the world?

To carry out a long-term response to this crisis, aimed at helping farmers recover their crops and agricultural livelihoods and reducing people’s vulnerability to future crises, LWR must raise $3 million by the end of 2011.
Your congregation can be an important part of that by taking up the Feeding 5,000 Challenge. For resources to help connect them with LWR’s emergency response in East Africa go to or call 1-800-597-5972.