In our lectionary group yesterday somebody raised an interesting thought about how we read the Parable of the Talents. We almost always read it from the perspective of the slaveowner, to use the analogy readily available in the text - we see it as a calling to use the gifts that God has given us. This is a good and faithful reading, and probably the one I will preach from on Sunday.
This other reading that was suggested wanted to read it from the perspective of the slaves. What is said or implied by the slaves that shows us how they perceive God. The slave(s) with whom we most closely associate might tell us something about how we too perceive God. Do we see God as a risk-taker, unafraid of failure, who is full of compassion and grace - the attitude implied, I think, by the actions of the slaves. Or, do we see God, in the words of the third slave, "Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid..."?
If we see God as the third slave does, how does our fear keep us from acting in the great rebuilding of Creation to which God calls us? How does our inaction cause us to break our relationship with God?
I found this reading to be interesting because I often find myself stagnant because of fear. In fact, my worry that I let float away during our evening worship on Thursday night at Worship with/in a Postmodern Accent was my fear of inadequacy. Actually my prayer was answered without even writing it. The pen I picked up was dead, so I folded a blank piece of paper and floated it away. While I was waiting for other to finish the difficult task of origami, I saw that the dead pen had written on it, "God doesn't call the qualified, God qualifies the called."
I'm trying to view God's radical riskiness in calling people like me and you to work with him. Will you let go of your fear and join me?