The parable of the talents is one of my favorites. It endeared itself to me as I slaved over the passage in anticipation of my preaching opportunity at Cannon Chapel. In seminary I was prone to take hours, days, even weeks preparing for a single sermon, and the time I was set to preach in front of a bunch of seminarian peers and professional theologians was definitely no exception. I worked and worked and met with 2 of the preaching professors for help and revisions. Practiced the sermon in the chapel space, and was blessed by a visit from an angel (really a prospective professor) who "needed to hear a good word" and asked to hear my sermon in its entirety and then offered very helpful feedback. The night before I went to make a couple of revisions and then completely revamped the sermon. (There was also the added pressure that it would be recorded and sent off to the Board of Ordained Ministry as my commissioning sermon).
Never a fan of "gnashing of teeth", my exegesis pushed me to look for something deeper behind the castigation of the third character. (I nicknamed him "Moe"). And what I saw was that Moe simply didn't try. There was no character who tried and failed. Only those who tried and succeeded and Moe who simply didn't bother. The sermon ended talking about how God can do a whole lot with "a little something". God did a whole lot with Moses' "little something"--a scared spirit and a stuttering voice. God did a whole lot with David's "little something"--a sling shot and rock against a giant. And God continues to do a whole lot with just a "little something". If we simply try, God will help us produce a return. Whatever our little something is, we need only put it to work and God will provide.
So this morning when I read this article, I was moved to tears. It is a powerful story of how lots of people, some acknowledging their gifts immediately and others searching for a bit, investing their "little something" for the sake of ministry. People were creative. They were risk takers. They shared with one another. They engaged in new relationships. Absolutely beautiful. My favorite thing in ministry is to watch/see/help people blossom into the fullness of who God has called them to be and this story is a perfect example of that.
Now, we don't all have $40,000 to loan out on a Sunday morning, but a friend of mine in the neighboring town used $1,000 and gave it in $5 amounts to her congregation so they could pay off their year end debt and end 2007 in the black. I don't know how it worked for her, but I would imagine in much the same way.
So, whether it's $5 or $50, an alto voice or a desire to teach, a willingness to clean or a listening ear, we can all get creative and use what we're given to double our return for the benefit of others in this world.