RCL Year A, Proper 28
Psalm 90:1-8 and 22, Zephaniah 1:7 and 12-18, Saint Matthew 25:14-30

What I am about to say I hesitate to say because of the particular nature of 2020. Since January, when the virus first appeared and began to be part of the news, nothing—or very little—has stayed the same. Everything has been fluid and has been changing rapidly. The world seems to have accelerated unbelievably. Take an hour off, and you are behind. Relax, but prepare to speed up. You will have to do that to keep up.

Two weeks from today, we begin a new Church Year and begin the season of Advent. This year has seemed like Advent almost from its beginning, for in Advent we are forced to look into the future and to perceive the future in the present. It is the season when we recognize that the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem leads inevitably and unrelentingly to his Second Coming. Advent instructs us that standing still, or the idea that it is possible to stand still, is just an illusion.

Standing still is what the third slave in the Parable of the Talents tries to do. He buries the one talent he is given. For many years, I thought that the risk involved in trading intimidated him. But he wants to stay even, to be able to return the single talent to his master. The only certain way to do that is to stand still, to bury the talent.

But the kingdom of God is more like 2020 than I supposed in 2019. Standing still isn’t really an option. It’s adapt or die, as Charles Darwin suggested in The Origin of Species: “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”

Darwin speaks of the physical world. But we Christians know that the physical world is the way it is, because God made it the way it is. The physical world descends from and consequently mirrors the spiritual world.

Jesus uses items from the physical world to tell us about the spiritual world. He uses seed and talents, coins and grain, to tell us about the kingdom. And when we take all of his teaching in, we learn that we have to be fluid and to keep moving toward him, toward God.

We have to grow physically and spiritually, and we have to keep moving, because God keeps moving. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.”[1] In the kingdom and in the world, money has to be invested, and seed has to be sown. How else can they fulfill their purposes to exist? How else can we fulfill our purpose to exist? We must come “to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.”[2]

This is what escapes the slave given one talent. We are not here just to hold on. We are here to become children of God.

[1] Lamentations 3:22-23.

[2] Ephesians 4:13.