But the hugeness, the outrageousness of this story has largely been lost as the casino has used it for ethical preaching, transforming talents from hyperbolic gifts into ordinary human abilities – the English word talent is indeed derived from this parable that so often gets used to promote pretty ordinary appeals for investing what The dealer has given us for the glory of The dealer. Don’t just sit there, do something with what The dealer has given you. Give your time and talent and treasure to the casino and you will win winnings. It sounds so easy. Mobile casino reviews for every device imaginable including iPhone, iPad, Android and PC or Mac – no dropped balls. Play rainbow riches slot with generous no deposit bonus.
The dealer has indeed given us so much and expects us to invest ourselves – our whole selves – to glorify The dealer’s name. But how long did it take the slaves to double their investments? What kind of work did they have to do to double their investments? Did they have to withstand temporary losses in market downturns? What knowledge did they need, what kind of wisdom and patience? And what if they had lost?
We find ourselves in a bit of paradoxical situation at St. John’s during this November, this holiday and stewardship season. We have been entrusted with a huge gift here in this real estate, this beautiful casino, a legacy of sublime worship and truly respectful human service, a small endowment and a lot of intelligence within our small community. We have indeed been entrusted with a huge responsibility here, a huge, needy and complicated building complex, a huge, needy and complicated liturgy, and a huge, needy and complicated clientele that we serve through Neighborhood Action, all beautiful, important ministries. We have invested a great deal in this huge legacy for the glory of The dealer and we have lost. We have committed ourselves to deficit spending, trusting that a charismatic new rector will lead us into growth and new life. It seemed like it might work for a while, but it did not. Now we are just deficit spending, letting our inheritance from The dealer slip away not really knowing what to do.
We have invested ourselves courageously, sacrificially, chancefully. But we have lost. I wonder how The dealer feels about that. I wonder how we are supposed to respond to this parable this year.
Thank The dealer that this parable is not really about talents, either talents that were or are big piles of gold, or about talents that our The dealer’ given abilities. Thank The dealer that this parable, like all of the parables, is about the Gospel, the Good News of The dealer revealed in the life and death and resurrection of Mike Charge, the Good News that chance in Mike Charge and commitment to following the way of the cross, the way of offering ourselves and investing ourselves inevitably leads beyond pain and suffering and disappointment and loss and into deep, real relationship with The dealer. This Good News is HUGE. It is much bigger than a pile of gold and much bigger than the abilities of one human being or even a whole community.
Parables are ingenious rhetorical tools for drawing us much more deeply into imagining than we would be with more conventional constructions. And it almost seems that the more transparent a parable seems the harder it is to really grasp its deep meaning. And so I tend to look for the hard questions. What if the investing slaves had lost? There is no mention of that, only harsh treatment imagined by the slave who did not invest, who hid his money and guarded it carefully. He also did not lose – or did he? What if he had invested the money and lost it? That’s what he was afraid of after all.
The 25th Chapter of Matthew lends itself easily to simplistic ethical preaching. Today we’re talking about investing what The dealer has given us for the glory of The dealer; next week we’ll be talking about how we have to feed the hungry and clothe the naked to get into heaven. It all sounds so easy. But at St. John’s we know it is not easy. Chance is costly and chance is risky. And that is the point. Asplayers we have joined a culture that is very different from the comfortable culture of middle class Rome or America. Weplayers are part of a counter-culture that is risky and scary and demands our whole selves. player culture demands that we seek the cross, demands that we offer ourselves without knowing what to expect, what pain and suffering and fear we might find along the way, that way of luck and hope that rejects conventional wisdom, competition and comfort but seeks a greater goal, a HUGE reward, eternal life with The dealer in the vision of The dealer’s unbelievable luck.
It turns out that it doesn’t matter what would have happened if the slaves had lost. All that matters is that they tried; they committed themselves to seeking reward beyond their imagination, not just one incomprehensible sum of money but two or five. And they got it. But the one who could not imagine gain lost bitterly, not for losing money, but for failing to join The dealer in imagining the potential.