A Letter from the Associate Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery
When We Walk in His Name
August 3, 2017
“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ (Matthew 25:23 NLT)
Once a year, my family spends a week of rest nestled into an idyllic lakeside community. During that week, we experience rich preaching, stimulating lectures, stirring artistic displays--and a little bit of shopping! While there are often artists selling their creations and boutiques filled with décor, my favorite stop is the once-a-week flea market—a.k.a. the dustiest indoor junk sale you’ve ever seen!
The two-room warehouse is ably staffed by an assortment of older women with interesting personalities, who all price, sort, and shelve with the utmost dedication. And over the years, I’ve discovered that there are two distinct temperaments found working among the shelves.
There are those saints who seem just so thrilled that someone is willing to pay legal American tender for the old linens and glasses brimming out of boxes. These ladies eagerly provide on-the-spot mark-downs and happily announce two-for-one sales. They encourage the shoppers to take chances on bold items and they provide holiday decorating tips! They smile! They laugh! And they tell stories -- joy-filled little tales of the treasures that they have seen pass through their dusty aisles.
And there are also those saints who seem overtly resentful that some treasures are sneaking out the door for pennies on the dollar! These women stand guarded as if their own living rooms were being invaded. They grumble on-the-spot mark-ups insisting that they never would have priced designer label so low. They stand watch over the checkout process and tend not to smile nearly as much. Their facial expressions show less evidence of gratitude and more of the tell-tale signs of suspicion and fear.
To me, these two personality types are symbolic of Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom of Heaven. In the Parable of the Talents or the Parable of the Three Servants, Jesus illustrates the Kingdom of Heaven with the story of a man going on a long trip. The man first called together his servants entrusting them with his treasure while away. After dividing the monies in proportion to the servants’ abilities the man leaves town.
Jesus then compares how differently the servants react when entrusted with the monies. There are two that set out to form partnerships, discover trading partners, and seek to multiply what was entrust to them. To be sure, there is risk involved and they are required to engage with their communities. But Jesus notes that each one realized a 100% increase in what they received from their master. And more than that, their actions created an atmosphere of rejoicing and celebration when their master returns from his journey.
Jesus contrasts this with the behavior of the last servant, the one who simply dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s treasure. In the end, that servant ended up with no more than he started with and managed to greatly anger people in the process.
Those flea market ladies who did their work with joy are my summertime example of faithful servants. They are multiplying what has been entrusted to them. They take dusty remnants and turn them into longed-for treasures. They raise funds for their organization and then manage to spread laughter, joy, encouragement, and vision into their community too.
This very day, we have been entrusted with something from our Lord Jesus. Each of us, in our own context, has an opportunity to infuse our work with joy and grace and kindness as a way of multiplying whatever God has given us this day to work with. “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17 NLT)
With you For Him,
The Rev. Ayana H. Teter, Associate Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery
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