Saturday, October 25, 2008

Parable of the Talents

Every time I read or hear about the parable of the talents (see below), I feel that there is a missing character. What about the person who invests the talents but then loses them all for who knows what reason--poor investment choice, perhaps, or circumstances beyond his/her control?

What if we invest the time, energy, and passion that God has given us in something that doesn't work out, or turns, apparently, into a disaster?

Why isn't this possibility represented in the parable?

In her book God Is Not Reasonable, Irma Zaleski's primary character, Mother Macrina, while speaking to a woman who finds herself paralyzed by indecision and fear as she faces a crucial decision, says, "I have learned, you see, that when we are really alone with God, we soon realize that there is nothing to fear and we know what we must do. When we are with God, we can make no mistakes. "

The woman replies, "What are you saying, Mother?...I know plenty of good people who made awful mistakes."

Mother Macrina says, "If they made them with God, they are not mistakes."

Maybe the reason the "loser" character is not in the parable of the talents is that, all appearances to the contrary, in the heavenly economy, nothing attempted for God and done in love is truly wasted...

* * * *
13 “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour. 14 For it is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two gained two more. 18 But the one who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money in it. 19 After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled his accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came and brought five more, saying, ‘Sir, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 The one with the two talents also came and said, ‘Sir, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more.’ 23 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? 27 Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! 28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. 29 For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 25)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

P.S. re Chrismation

Those of you who know me and are within driving range, please consider coming to the service at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 23. Wear sturdy shoes, and keep your minds open to behold the very most ancient Christianity alive and well--mystical, shockingly powerful, unsettling, peaceful, and searing, all at the same time. Contact me for details!

Christmation Countdown!

It's November 23...

33 days...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What Can Withstand God's Gentleness and Humility?

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Christina Rosetti

Thursday, October 16, 2008

All these decades of living, and I'd never before noticed...

...that all dewdrops are not identical.

This morning, I saw that on the webs on bushes, each drop is bright around the edges and clear in the center, whereas on blades of grass, each drop is just as clear at the center as it is around the radius.

As Hopkins wrote,

"...nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things..."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pretty Much the Whole Enchilada, I Think, Including Some Parts I'd Not Heard Til Now

St. Patrick's Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;

His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,

Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,

The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.

The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;

Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,

Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Holy Rest

"The Sabbath is no time for personal anxiety or care, for any activity that might dampen the spirit of joy. The Sabbath is no time to remember sins, to confess, to repent or even to pray for relief or anything we might need. It is a day for praise, not a day for petitions. Fasting, mourning, demonstrarions of grief are forbidden...
One must abstain from toil and strain on the seventh day, even from strain in the service of God...
It is a sin to be sad on the Sabbath day. "

Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath


"Eventually, the Christians began to observe the first day (as Justin Martyr called it "the day of the Sun," according to the Roman calendar) not because it was Shabbat (sabbath) but because it was the day upon which Christ rose from the dead, the central teaching of Christians, vindicating his power through his death to forgive the sins of the world.In fact, it was a "new day," which they called "the eighth day," a new day because it was the day after the seventh day that Christ rose, sanctifying it in a special way as the day of the new covenant, just as God sanctified the Sabbath/7th day from the creation of the universe.The 'eighth day' was the day the new testament accounts record that the risen Christ revealed himself to his disciples over a forty day period..."

...and, lifted directly from the Eighth Day Books website (

"The number eight was, for ancient Christianity, the symbol of the Resurrection, for it was on the day after the Sabbath, and so the eighth day, that Christ rose from the tomb. Furthermore, the seven days of the week are the image of the time of this world, and the eighth day of life everlasting. Sunday is the liturgical commemoration of the eighth day, at the same time a memorial of the Resurrection and a prophecy of the world to come …"-J. Danielou, The Bible and the Liturgy

" … an eighth and eternal day, consecrated by the Resurrection of Christ … There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise."-St. Augustine, City of God, Book 22, Chapter 30

To Sanctify Time

"We pass through time,
we occupy space...
Creation is the language of God,
Time is His song,
and things of space the consonants in His song.
To sanctify time
is to sing the vowels in unison with Him."
The Sabbath by Abraham Hershel
painting: "Glorious Apparel"
from Vespers: "The Lord has put on glorious apparel"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Signs & Miracles"

"If You exist," I said, "send me
a pony."

Immediately Jesus appeared
in my bedroom.

I got off my knees. "You heard
my prayer!"

He quoted Himself: "Except ye
se signs and miracles, you will
not believe."

"Be reasonable, Jesus. It's hard
to just take Your word for it."

"But I'm here. In your bedroom.
Isn't that enough?"

"So is the pony outside?"

Ron Koertge

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Trying to Change

That Leaf

That leaf tries very hard to turn over
in very little wind. It lifts a corner
and settles on the ground exhausted, lifts
itself half over but, as the wind shifts,
falls face down eating mud. It hikes half up
in an attitude of prayer, then gives up.
Suddenly it turns fully over, sun
illuminating its dry belly. The sum
of all attempts is change, yet when change comes
it's finally so easy the world becomes
instantly rearranged, present
from past estranged, the old energy spent
in almost angry astonishment.
All the leaf sees is sky, appallingly wide,
though it always was so--depleted, terrified
by sudden perspective, the outside brought inside,
though it always was so.

Molly Peacock

Friday, October 3, 2008

Styrofoam Peanuts

"There is no void--all is full of His nearness," wrote Nicholas Arseniev in Revelation of Life Eternal.

And I think that there is no such thing as "filler," the ontological equivalent of the styrofoam peanuts used in packing.

There are no dead or meaningless/worthless moments.

Does this fact demand, then, a kind of hypervigilance on our part, as that of an eyeball staring starkly open at all times so as to not miss anything?

No, we can rest when need be, because the meaningfulness of each moment comes from God.

"He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Part 2: What He (They) Saw

Paul saw the face of Ananias, his brother in Christ.

Jesus saw the face of His mother.

The three Hebrew youths saw each other, and they saw "One like a son of man" with them in the fiery furnace.

"For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress."

William Blake