WELCOME: Devotional Home Worship for NOVEMBER 15TH, 2020.

THE PRAYER OF THE DAY:  Righteous God, our merciful master, you own the earth and all its peoples, and you give us all that we have. Inspire us to serve you with justice and wisdom, and prepare us for the joy of the day of your coming, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen!

BIBLE READINGS: (Old Testament)        ZEPHANIAH 1:7, 12-18         PSALM 90:1-12

          (New Testament)         1ST Thessalonians 5:1-11                MATTHEW 25:14-30


     May the grace and peace of our Heavenly Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit be with each and every one of us. Amen!

     Jesus in today’s Gospel reading in Matthew says, “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.” (Matthew 25:29) If worry is the interest paid on trouble before it is due, the faint hearted servant of today’s reading of Jesus’ parable of the Talents was maxed to the gills.

     You and I can sympathize with the poor servant of the parable who, when given a huge sum of money to invest, fell victim to paralysis by analysis, worried that all might be lost. While the usual average daily wage is a denarius, this servant has just been given a talent which is about equal to 6000 denarius. I think you might agree that this is excessive and maybe a little irresponsible of the Master to give such a charge. So the story tells us that the servant buried the talent rather than buying bonds or taking a chance with the bulls and bears of the stock market. After all, when the CEO returns, heads will roll. At least that is the perception.

     The hapless servant seems to be afflicted with toxic worry. Toxic worriers are people who obsess over everything that could possibly go wrong to the point of paralysis. Now doesn’t this sound familiar in our day and age of a COVIC-19 corona virus pandemic. Why we probably knew people even before the pandemic in what we might call “normal life” having this toxic worry. For sure this is a real condition and it is serious for both the individual as well as the community.

     The question gets to be, how can we deal with toxic worry in our lives? Here is where we go to the Bible, God’s Word. When we hear this parable of the talents, most of us think that the servant was “unfaithful” or as the story suggests, “lazy”. While this is part of the picture, there is another vantage point from which we can view the actions of the three servants in Jesus’ parable. Why did the one servant shirk from developing the gift while the other 2 servants invested their “talents”?

     Let’s look for a moment at verses 24 and 25 in our text of Matthew: “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; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” The key phrase is right in the middle, “SO I WAS AFRAID.” Now that’s toxic worry.

     Unfortunately it is nothing new. From Adam and Eve in the Garden, through the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and down to the latest Stephen King thriller, there is one sure-fire way to get people excited about a situation, to stop them in their tracks, and that is to invoke fear. While Adam and Eve felt shame, it was fear that caused them to hide from God in Paradise. At the Red Sea, the Israelites, hearing the distant approach of the Egyptian chariots and hoof beats, were extremely anxious until the waters parted. Crossing the Red Sea on dry land eased their worries, to be sure, but despite the great miracles they had witnessed on their journey, when they got to the promised land, the land of Canaan, the Israelites were all but paralyzed with fear at the prospect of heading into the unknown as we read in the 14 Chapter of Numbers.

     Looking at the parable of the talents we can see that worry can either inspire action or it can stop it cold. Just say for a moment that the one servant’s ideas about the master being “harsh” was true, do you notice that the 3 servants do not respond the same? All 3 servants shared the same basic circumstances. All were no doubt petrified to the bottom of their portfolios, since they were all given a similar job to do. They all had the same investors to deal with, but two in the midst of their worry work found opportunity that spurred them into action while the third seemed poisoned by the worry work. Two made the most of their fortunes while the other was paralyzed.

     Whatever the motivation, and whatever they did, the two servants did something substantial and the master in the parable was pleased with their effort and work. But the third servant froze in his tracks. Maybe he believed the untruths he told himself about the master, like he was “harsh” or even a “thief” as one who harvested what he did not plant. Of course none of these are true of God. Jesus is not at all like that. Yet there are people who do imagine that God and Jesus are like the master of the parable. My, do we Christians have our work cut out for us to share the truth about God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

     Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist and instructor at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, notes that about half of the American people are consumed with one form or another of worry. Dr. Hallowell goes on to say that, “Good worry is worry that leads to constructive action.” Simply put, good worry works with the opportunities that are given. On the other hand Dr. Hallowell says, “Toxic worry does just the opposite. It paralyzes you. You brood, you ruminate, you wake up in the middle of the night. Meanwhile you don’t take any action.” Doesn’t that sound like the servant who took the talent and dug a hole and hid it? Yup, it’s toxic worry!

     Just what can we do about worry? Whether it is in “normal living” or living in the midst of a global pandemic worry is part of life. Dr. Hallowell proposes three things which can shift our focus from worry to solutions. The first is that one should talk to someone to neutralize the power of toxic worry. The Bible is continually suggesting that we gather in fellowship with the faithful and to be in constant prayer with our God. Dr. Hallowell suggests that we talk with a friend, a relative, a spouse, a pastor, a teacher, or counselor. Talking helps put things into perspective and folk then are rarely engaged in “toxic worry” when talking with another person or their Lord.

     Second, one should get the real facts of a situation. Social Media has its place and value, but it cannot be your only source of information since it has few steps to verify the information as to its validity. We need to find out what is true and what is not true through a variety of independent sources that can be verified. Peter Drucker, a management guru, says that “once the facts are clear, the decisions jump out at you.” As the Bible keeps emphasizing, faith and truth leads us to the will of God and a salvation of eternal live in Christ Jesus.

     Finally, one should make a plan to deal with the circumstance or situation, whatever it is. As Jesus’ parable makes clear, each servant has different abilities, gifts, and talents. Each of us needs to see what can be done to help improve the circumstance or situation rather than to let it alone to go on and fester to make life miserable.

     Notice that Jesus’ parable of the talents is not about creating boundaries between “insiders” and “outsiders” in the faith community. All of the servants are called, gifted, and sent forth as stewards of the master’s treasure. Also notice that this parable is not a prosperity gospel teaching. All the servants are given treasure in the “talents” and no one is left out of the possibilities to serve God and community. In fact, the parable is about God’s abundant grace filled resources that are given to humankind, such abundance that calls us forth to be stewards with a focus on the many opportunities and possibilities for us to care and serve our Lord Jesus and our neighbor. Thus you and I are called to manage God’s resources out of a sense of abundant provision and not out of a “toxic worry” and fear of shortage in opportunities, provisions, or success. In this time of a pandemic it could be a complicated as making a vaccine, or as necessary as finding treatments to care for those with the corona virus, or as simple as wearing a mask and social distancing to slow the spread of the virus. We are all called with God’s resources to do what we can in love and respect for God and each other that casts off paralyzing fear, “toxic worry.”

     As the Psalmist says, “Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another.” (Psalm 90:1) The Apostle Paul puts it this way, “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.” (1ST Thessalonians 5:8-10) And Jesus himself said, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34) Let all of us, therefore, strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well, even the courage to through off “toxic worry” by way of faith, love, and the hope of salvation.

     May each of us be acknowledged by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with the words, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21) Oh, let it be so! Amen!




We are now Live Streaming the 9am CARPIO Lutheran Church Sunday Worship Service each week. It is our hope to continue this service and to post it on the Zion & Carpio Lutheran Churches FACEBOOK Page each Sunday. We hope that you will enjoy this fuller experience of worship as well as a deeper experience of fellowship with the body of Christ as we bring you into the Carpio sanctuary each Sunday. Thanks for your participation in receiving these devotional worship times in the midst of God’s Word that we are going to be ending. May God now bless you in the 9am Sunday Morning Live Stream of the Carpio Lutheran Church Worship Service where you will receive the same Bible Readings and Sermon Message as the Devotions provided each week.