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A Different Parable of the Talents

Luke 19.12-27
There’s an interesting variation on Luke’s Parable of the Talents among the Rabbinic parables in the Babylonian Talmud, which was compiled about five hundred years after the time of Jesus. 

The Talmud says, ‘Our rabbis taught: “...the spirit returns to the God who gave it", [which] means, “Give it to him pure as he gave it to you.” 

‘This may be compared to a king of flesh and blood who distributed royal garments to his servants. The attentive among them folded them and deposited them in a chest. The foolish among them went and did their work in them.

‘Days later the king asked for his garments. The attentive among them returned them to him all sparkling; the foolish among them returned them to him all soiled.

‘The king was pleased with the attentive, but angry with the foolish. Regarding the attentive he said: "Give the garments to the treasurer and let them go to their homes in peace."

Regarding the foolish he said: "Give the garments to the treasurer an…
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Holistic Mission

Mark 1.32-39 Someone was asked to come up with a checklist for the signs of a healthy church. [1] He went to the Bible and came up with a good Biblical number of boxes to tick - 12 - but not all of them are relevantto our situation so I have reducedthe list to ten. The first sign of a healthy church is that everyone is welcome. And that really does mean everyone, including visitors who make a bit of noise or cause a bit of a disturbance. I think that, by and large, we pass that test. The second sign is being ready to offer uncomplaining service to our local community. I think we're moving in a positive direction on that one too. We've just got approval for a second grant towards our Parish Nurses’ project to help local people lead healthier lives. But I recognize that projects like this demand considerable effort and commitment over a sustained period of time. Like a pet, serving the community is not just for Christmas. It's a year round, decades long, challenge, which is why…

The Leadership Vacuum

Numbers 27.12-21, John 10.11-16
The federation of the tribes of Israel, gathered under Moses' leadership, was an experiment in a new kind of nation building where, instead of gathering around a king or queen, the people sought to follow God's will as mediated to them by Moses. In theory, once they knew what God wanted, and so long as they kept to these rules for living, the nation of Israel considered themselves to be a free people, no longer under the yoke of oppression, unlike every other nation on the earth.

But as Moses’ death approached there was the risk of a leadership vacuum; in the Bible's view, even a free people needs a guiding hand on the tiller. Without any leadership at all, warned Moses, the people would be like sheep without a shepherd. It’s a recurring motif in the Bible story.

Since the EU Referendum we've had our own experience of the need for leadership. In the Referendum we - the people - decided by a narrow margin to leave the EU, but we didn't d…