Read or listen to the sermon and discussion from last Sunday’s Zoom service:
“Grateful for Our Gifts”
Sermon Notes, by Rev. Dr. Sherrie Connelly
OT: Judges 4: 1-7
The Israelites were judged as up to no good and committing evil deeds after Ehud died. They were oppressed cruelly for 20 years thanks to 900 enemy chariots.
There was a prophetess named Deborah.
She commanded Borah from Naphtali to bring 10,000 of their tribes in Naphtali and Zebulon. By her efforts, the Israelites were victorious over Sisera who commanded the enemy army.
Emanuel Swedenborg: Apocalypse Explained N. 439
The reading signifies spiritual combat against any evils infesting the church.
Only the tribe of Zebulon and Naphtali fought – signifying the conjunction of good and truth, having a further meaning of reformation and regeneration.
Even further their joining reflects the uniting of Divine and Human in the Lord.
And how the Heavens are arranged.
NT: Matthew 25: 14-39
A man going on a journey entrusted three of his slaves with his properties.
One received 5 talents. One received 2 talents and a third received 1 talent. With working and clever investments 5 became 10, and 2 became 4. But the third single talent was buried in the ground for safe keeping.
The slave who prospered the most was given a good and large responsibility. The second slave likewise. The third however, gaining no profits was scorned and banished for laziness.
Resources We Have Been Given (abundance).
From these scripture readings we can learn many lessons. First on a literal level we each have been given various resources – these include money, houses and apartments (and sometimes small huts for dwellings), animals, fruits and vegetables for food and plenty in our gardens, and our family’s inheritance.
If we are fortunate, we have been given more than enough, an abundance. More than likely we have been given enough. And in some cases, people receive very little, and are poor and hungry.
On a second level of meaning we each have been gifted with skills, abilities, and talents that will help us make our way in the world.
The blessing of cognitive skills and our give senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell and tsate. Some might also add balance and rhythm. Some of these might be natural abilities. Others we go to school to develop. And still others we discover if we are lucky at other times in our lives.
Gifts We give to Others – Generosity
On a third level, perhaps a transcendental level, we discover another blessing, another gift. These are the gifts we give to others, the fruits of generosity, when we are kind and giving to others, especially our neighbors, when they are needy. I know a Christian man named Mic C. who goes out of his way finding people he can help and serve with food, money and handmade rosaries.
We might want to understand these three levels of giftedness according to the three levels of Heaven. There is the natural level of physical resources, property, goods, etc. for life and living. Then there is the heavenly level, where our skills and abilities allow us to benefit others. Then there is the celestial level, where all gifts given multiply and bless our community and the world.
Let us rejoice in all the gifts we have been given and have hearts full of gratitude for all the blessings we have been given. We give thanks for the Lord’s love and love the Holy one in return. Amen.