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Sermon Notes

The poet Mary Oliver penned this question:

‘What are you going to do with your one wild life?”

We all can or have answered the question differently.

What am I going to do?

Raise my family.

Make a living

Get rich.

Try and do good for the world.

Serve others.

Get everything I can out of life.

Try and escape it all any way I can.

Work for justice.

I’m finished with involvement in life—I’ve done all I can.

Amass all the power I can.

Take care of the earth.

Use the earth as I want for ends I want.

Life life to the fullest.

Enjoy life.

Share life.

Make life work for me.

Answers could go on and on.

How others answer, though, isn’t really the question.

It’s your answer that is important.

The poet’s question is aimed at you-

    Just as Jesus’ parable of the talents.

What are you going to do with your one wild life?

There was a man, Jesus said, who gave each of his servants talents- money.

One servant received 5 measures of money.

One, 2,

And one servant, one.

The master went on a long journey, and when he came back-

He basically asked this question:

What have you done with your one wild life?

How have you used the talents, the money, the gifts I have given you?

The first and second servants gave interesting answers.

They gambled with the gifts.

They took some risk.

In a sense, they gambled with the gifts- kind of wheeled and dealed in trading, so that in the end, they came out with more than they had been given.

Risk created life.

Risk created more.

And risk was just what the master wanted—the servant with 5 initial talents ended up with 5 more, and the servant with 2 initial talents ended up with 2 more.

Presumably to use in risk once more.

The servant who had been given one talent fared differently.

He had buried his one talent in the ground–where it would be safe, indeed-!—but where it would serve no use, either.

He thought that action would give him the most leverage with the master, who he had assumed was a harsh judge.  Better to keep things safe for this judge than risk it all and incur potential wrath.

But the master, in the end, pretty much cared less about safety.

The master wanted risk.

Demanded it, in fact.

Risk- risk!- was the one thing he was most interested in.

What are you going to do with your one wild life?

In 1 Thessalonians, we heard that God “has destined us not for wrath.”

We do not share the third servant’s future.

There is no outer darkness that awaits us, no weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Hope is ahead—light, and life.

But that hope comes to us

Because the “Master” is a gambler, a risk taker.

God has risked Christ for us.

God has used Christ’s one, wild life

  For the sake of giving it away to this broken world-

  That in that gift, the world might find itself mended, and saved.

The name of the master in the parable could have been “Risk.”

God didn’t so love that God controlled.

God didn’t so love that God withheld.

God didn’t so love that God consumed.

God loved, so that God gave.

God took the risk of the sinner misunderstanding, misappropriating, manipulating, and mismanaging the love God poured out in the son.

God took the risk of coming cloaked as a baby, born of a humble girl, born in a tiny village in an insignificant town- rather than in full sight, terrifying, powerful sight—that we might have a shot at seeing God for God:

                  Not power for power’s sake-  but power that pours itself out for the powerless.

What are you going to do with your one wild life?

We belong, 1 Thessalonians says, “to the day.”

We belong to the claim of love,

The presence of grace,

The promise of mercy.

The Lord of risk calls us to the same.

Not to irresponsibility! Hardly.

We are not excused by the risk the Holy One has taken for us to squander money, property, or health.

We are not excused to use others, and spend our own lives as we please, when we please, how we please

There is different risk, a risk more radical, going on here

We are called to the risk of love even when the intended recipient wants nothing to do with it.

We are called to the risk of grace even when that risk might return cruelty, or judgement.

We are called to the risk of mercy even when anything but might come back our way.

We are called to the risk of tending to gifts of art, of education, of health, of garden, of farm, of business, of family—

     And tend them carefully and well=

     For the sake of love.  Nothing more. And nothing less.

The risk of love holds you.

What are you going to do with that risk-

    That love,

     As it beckons your one, wild life?