Friday, August 30, 2013

using your gifts

(sermon: start of year service for the local primary school)

May my words be in the name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

That parable we just heard, about the servants receiving all that gold from their master and doing different things with it … what do you think it was all about? … yes, yes … those are all good thoughts … you know, I really thought this was a good reading for starting back to school … & I thought I might tell you a little story based on what it is trying to say to us …

there once was a king with three sons: Andrew, Bill, and Charlie. Andrew was the eldest and very strong; Bill was next and very fast; and Charlie was the youngest and, well pretty ordinary compared to his brothers. And boy did they let him know it.

'You're not much good at anything, are you?' they would jeer. 'There is no chance you'll be the next king!' The reason they said that was because each year on his birthday, the king had a tournament. And as part of the tournament, each of his sons was allowed to challenge the royal champion in combat. The king had told them that the first to defeat the champion would be his heir.

For the past several years, both Andrew and Bill had challenged the champion, but neither had ever beaten him. The reason was because, all though Andrew was very strong and Bill very fast, both were very lazy. Both preferred to go off riding horses and hunting with their friends to putting in the hard training needed to beat the champion.

'But it doesn't matter,' said Andrew to himself. 'As I grow older, I get stronger. Soon enough I'll be able to beat him.'

Bill thought the same, that the day would come when he was quick enough. And so neither of them worked very hard to hone their skills and make the best use of their gifts.

Charlie, on the other hand, although he didn't have their natural talent, worked very hard at his training. When they went off hunting, he went to the champion and begged him for private training lessons. And smiling the champion agreed.

'You're getting good,' he told Charlie. 'But you'll never be as strong or quick as your brothers. I can't see the day coming when you can beat me.'

'Perhaps not,' said Charlie. 'But I'll do my best.'

Finally it was the king's birthday again. Before the tournament, Charlie went to each of his brothers.

'Andrew,' he said. 'I hope you do well today. But I think this is the year that the champion will be defeated. And it won't be by you!' To Bill he said

'I think that this year is you final chance to win the crown. Because if you don't win this time, it will go to another.'

Andrew, thinking he meant Bill was nearly ready, put up a ferocious battle. It went on for ages, but at last he was defeated. Bill, thinking that Charlie had meant that Andrew would soon be ready, and seeing how hard he fought this year, thought that this was surely his last chance, for Andrew might win the following year. He also put up a great fight against the champion and lasted a long time, but at last he too was defeated.

And then Charlie stepped forward.

'Yes, my son?' said the king.

'This year, I also challenge the champion.'

The king smiled.

'I wondered when your time would come. Fight on.'

After two hard battles, the champion was tired. And Charlie, although he was neither as fast nor as strong as his brothers, was very well trained – trained by the champion himself. Soon the battle was over, and Charlie was the victor.

The champion clapped him on the shoulder.

'Nicely done,' he said.

'But we don't understand,' wailed Andrew and Bill.

'It is simple,' said the king. 'You each had your gifts, but you did nothing with them. Charlie also had gifts, which you did not see. He was not only hard-working, but wiser than you. You have missed your chance and it is he who shall be king. And you will serve him.'

And in the fullness of time, Charlie did become king. And a very good king he was, as wise and hard-working as he had been to win the crown.

And that's the point. There's no point having gifts and not using them. And if you waste them, the day will come when it is just too late. And you'll loose out. You'll miss out on the greatest prize of all. And you'll have no one to blame but yourself, because you were the one who chose to do nothing with them. Something I pray that no one here will ever do. Amen. 

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