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Run, Christian Run!

Matthew 25:14-30

The Rev. Jon Roberts

13 November


Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

Venice, FL

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ 23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Run, Christian Run!

Forrest Gump, Paramount Pictures, 1994

The day finally arrived. Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven. He was at the Pearly Gates, met by St. Peter himself. However, the gates are closed, and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper. St. Peter said, 'Well, Forrest, it is certainly good to see you. We have heard a lot about you. I must tell you, though, that the place is filling up fast, and we have been administering an entrance exam for everyone. The test is short, but you have to pass before you get into Heaven.' Forrest responds, 'It sure is good to be here, St. Peter, sir, but nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. I sure hope that the test ain't too hard. Life was a big enough test as it was.' St. Peter continued, 'Yes, I know, Forrest, but the test is only three questions.

First: What two days of the week begin with the letter T?
Second: How many seconds are there in a year?
Third: What is God's first name?'

Forrest leaves to think the questions over. He returns the next day and St. Peter is waving him up, saying, 'Now that you have had a chance to think the questions over, tell me your answers.' Forrest replied, 'Well, the first one -- which two days in the week begins with the letter 'T'? Shucks, that one is easy. That would be Today and Tomorrow.' The Saint's eyes opened wide and he exclaimed, 'Forrest, that is not what I was thinking, but you do have a point. I guess I did not specify, so I will give you credit for that answer. How about the next one?' asked St. Peter. 'How many seconds in a year? Now that one is harder,' replied Forrest, 'but I thunk and thunk about that, and I guess the only answer can be twelve.' Astounded, St. Peter said, 'Twelve? Forrest, how in Heaven's name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?' Forrest replied, 'Shucks, there's got to be twelve: January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd, April 2nd... ' 'Hold it,' interrupts St. Peter. 'I see where you are going with this, and I see your point, though that was not quite what I had in mind...but I will have to give you credit for that one, too.

Let us go on with the third and final question. Can you tell me God's first name'? 'Sure,' Forrest replied, 'It's Andy.' 'Andy?' exclaimed an exasperated and frustrated St Peter. 'Ok, I can understand how you came up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the name Andy as the first name of God?' 'Shucks, that was the easiest one of all,' Forrest replied. 'I learnt it from the song,
St. Peter opened the Pearly Gates, and said: 'Run, Forrest, run.'

For those of you who do not know the character, Forrest Gump was the name of a Private First Class soldier in the US Army who served in the Vietnam War. Before that he was a punt returner for the University of Alabama. Eventually he became a millionaire as a Shrimp Boat Captain. Though he was made popular for his running. He was always running. When the chase was on, everyone shouted, "Run Forrest, run."
Whether we are in the fight or in the flight, we are either running to something or running away from something. The only wisdom out of all of this is to know which one to choose. When is it time to run to something? And when is it time to run away from something? It only comes from hearing, reading, marking, learning and inwardly digesting the wisdom that comes from our Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth...The B.I.B.L.E. Some people say, "I never read the bible, and I know which way to turn." They don't understand. The Bible contains multiple attestations, stories, genre that spans all of mankind. There is nothing new today that cannot be found in the context of these sacred scriptures. They are sacred because they impart God's wisdom; His recounted interactions with men, women and children like us, throughout history. In a sense it is "His-Story." It is His story of His creation, people, and how they walked with him and talked with him and were told that they are His own.

Those who truly listen, discerning the will of God, can be found in scripture. The observation of Veteran's Day was not long ago on 11-11-11. Today, spiritual hymns are sung, some are national hymns as well. "My Country 'tis of thee"; "America, America" and "Onward Christian Soldiers"; They are songs that stir within us the moments we remember soldiers who were always on the run. They were given basic instruction and now told to execute what they have learned. Why would they spend all of that time training if they never intended on using it?

This brings us to the point of our Gospel today. Jesus tells the story of the Master and his three servants.[1] He gave them each a number of talents. To the first he gave five. To the second he gave two. To the third he gave one. When he came to settle his accounts with them here is what he found. The First doubled their portion. The Second doubled their portion. The Third did nothing. He hid it. When God gives us talent (and all of us have been given a portion) there are only two days in which to run...Today and Tomorrow. When God gives us talent, we must run in seconds... the second He walks with us, the second He talks with us, and the second He says that we are His own. Lastly, if we are truly to venerate Veteran's let us be reminded that the word "Veteran" means "Old." Those who have lived through tough times; those who have persevered; those who have survived. There is only one way to live and to survive, to pass into all eternity, and that is through God's son, Jesus Christ. He is the word, the Living God, found in sacred scripture.

If you hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Bible, you become like those people who lived before. Like those old veterans who lived before: patriarchs, prophets, kings, psalmists, disciples. Godly men and women run. This does not mean necessarily physical running. It refers to those who know when to use their talents and run to use them. It refers to the penitent who are ready to run from their sins. It refers to the call for help and when we run to serve. Those who know when to run to God know how to run from self. Live your life as if God is calling you to run. So run! Run, Christian run!

[1] Matthew 25:14-30

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